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BROWNIES AND BOGLES
LOUISE IMOGEN GUINEY
Songs at the Start
The White Sail
Fifty Illustrations by Edmund H Garrett
D LOTHROP COMPANY
FRANKLIN ANH HAWLEY STREETS
D. LoTHROP Company.
PRESSWORK BY BbRWICK d SMITH, BOSTPft,
WHAT FAIRIES WERE AND WHAT THEY DID . . II
FAIRY RULERS 22
THE BLACK ELVES 33
THE LICHT ELVES 46
DEAR liROWNIE 63
OTHER HOUSE-HELPERS 79
PUCK; AND poets' FAIRIES I23
THE PASSING OF THE LITTLE PEOPLE . . . 1 59
LIST .OF ILLUSTRATIONS.
The little river-neck of Sweden
" God speed you, gentlemen ! "
The Neapolitan fairy
The elf-monarch who was made court-fool
The Isle of Riigen Dwarfs that give presents
The Dwarf that borrowed the silk gown
The Black Dwarfs of Riigen planning mischief
The Troll's children
" I can't stay any longer ! "
An elle-maid of Denmark
Bertha, the White Lady
Some Greek fairies .
Brownie's delight was to do domestic service
Brownie relishes his bowl of cream
All that Puck demanded
" Wag-at-the-wa' " . .
An Irish Cluricaune
Japanese children and Brownies
A little Fir-Darrig .
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.
The persistent Xobold of Kopenick
The old Nix near Ghent
The work of the Nickel
Hob in Hobhole
The Irish Pooka was a horse too
Pisky also chased the farmers' cows
Red Comb was a tyrant .
The Welsh Puck .
A merry night-wanderer
" By the moon we sport and play "
The elves whose little eyes glow
There was an Irish changling .
" The acorn before the oak have I seen "
She heard a faint voice singing under a leaf
" Ainsel " .
Gitto Bach and the fairies
Kaguyahime, the moon-maid
The little hunchback
" Al was this loud fulfilled of faeries "
The capture of Skillywidden
BROWNIES AND BOGLES.
BROWNIES AND BOGLES."
WHAT FAIRIES WERE AND WHAT THEY DID.
A FAIRY is a humorous person sadly out of
fashion at present, who has had, neverthe-
less, in the actors' phrase, a long and prosperous
run on this planet. When we speak of fairies
nowadays, we think only of small sprites who
live in a kingdom of their own, with manners, laws,
and privileges very different from ours. But there
was a time when " fairy " suggested also the knights
and ladies of romance, about whom fine spirited
tales were told when the world was younger.
Spenser's Faery Queen, for instance, deals with
dream-people, beautiful and brave, as do the old
stories of Arthur and Roland ; people who either
I J "brownies and bogles."
never lived, or who, having lived, were glorified
and magnified by tradition out of all kinship with
common men. Our fairies are fairies in the mod-
ern sense. We will make it a rule, from the be-
ginning, that they must be small, and we will put
out any who are above the regulation height.
Such as the charming famous Melusina, who
wails upon her tower at the death of a Lusignan,
we may as well skip; for she is a tall young
lady, with a serpent's tail, to boot, and thus,
alas! half-monster; for if we should accept any
like her in our plan, there is no reason why we
should not get confused among mermaids and
dryads, and perhaps end by scoring down great
Juno herself as a fairy ! Many a dwarf and gob-
lin, whom we shall meet anon, is as big as- a
child. Again, there are rumors in nearly every
country of finding hundreds of them on a square
inch of oak-leaf, or beneath the thin shadow of a
blade of grass. The fairies of popular belief are
little and somewhat shrivelled, and quite as apt to
be malignant as to be frolicsome and gentle. We
shall find that they were divided into several
WHAT FAIRIES WERE AND WHAT THEV DID. 13
classes and families ; but there is much analogy
and vagueness among these divisions. By and by
you may care to study them for yourselves ; at
present, we shall be very high-handed with the
science of folk-lore, and pay no attention whatever
to learned gentlemen, who quarrel so foolishly
about these things that it is not helpful, nor even
funny, to listen to them. A widely-spread notion
is that when our crusading forefathers went to
the Holy Land, they heard the Paynim soldiers,
whom they fought, speaking much of the Peri, the
loveliest beings imaginable, who dwelt in the East.
Now, the Arabian language, which these swarthy
warriors used, has no letter P, and therefore they
called their spirits Feri, as did the Crusaders after
them ; and the word went back with them to Eu-
rope, and slipped into general use.
"Elf" and "goblin," too, are interesting to
trace. There was a great Italian feud, in the
twelfth century, between the German Emperor and
the Pope, whose separate partisans were known as
the Guelfs and the Ghibellines. As time went on,
and the memory of that long strife was still fresh,
14 "brownies and bogles.
a descendant of the Guelfs would put upon any-
body he disliked the odious name of Ghibelline ;
and the latter, generation after generation, would
return the compliment ardently, in his own fashion.
Both terms, finally, came to be mere catch-words
for abuse and reproach. And the fairies, falling
into disfavor with some bold mortals, were angrily
nicknamed " elf " and " goblin " ; in which shape
you will recognize the last threadbare reminder of
the once bitter and historic faction of Guelf and
It is likely that the tribe were designated as fair-
ies because they were, for the most part, fair to
see, and full of grace and charm, especially among
the Celtic branches ; and people, at all times, had
too much desire to keep their good-will, and too
much shrinking from their rancor and spite, to
give them any but the most flattering titles. They
were seldom addressed otherwise than " the little
folk," "the kind folk," "the gentr)%" "the fair
family," "the blessings of their mothers," and "the
dear wives " ; just as, thousands of years back,
the noblest and cleverest nation the world has ever
WHAT FAIRIES WERE AND WHAT THEY DID. 15
seen, called the dreaded Three " Eumenides," the
gracious ones. It is a sure and fast maxim that
wheedling human nature puts on its best manners
when it is afraid. In Goldsmith's racy play, She
Stoops to Conquer, old Mistress Hardcastle meets
what she takes to be a robber. She hates robbers,
of course, and is scared half out of her five wits ;
but she implores mercy with a cowering politeness
at which nobody can choose but laugh, of her "good
Mr. Highwayman," Now, fairies, who knew how to
be bountiful and tender, and who made slaves of
themselves to serve men and women, as we shall
see, were easily offended, and wrought great mis-
chief and revenge if they were not treated hand-
somely ; all of which kept people in the habit of
courtesy toward them. A whirlwind of dust is a
very annoying thing, and makes one splutter, and
feel absurdly resentful ; but in Ireland, exactly as
in modern Greece, the peasantry thought that it
betokened the presence of fairies going a journey ;
so they lifted their hats gallantly, and said : " God
speed you, gentlemen ! "
Fairies had their followers and votaries from
BROWNIES AND BOGLES.
early times. Nothing in the Bible hints that they
were known among the heathens with whom the
Israelites warred ; nothing in classic mythology
has any approach to them, except the beautiful
"god speed you, gentlemen!"
wood and water-nymphs. Yet poet Homer, Pliny
the scientist, and Aristotle the philosopher, had
some notion of them, and of their influence. In old
China, whole mountains were peopled with them,
and the coriander-seeds grown in their gardens
WHAT FAIRIES WERE AND WHAT THEY DID. 1 7
gave long life to those who ate of them. The
Persians had a hierarchy of elves, and were the
first to set aside Fairyland as their dwelling-place.
Saxons, in their wild forests, believed in tiny
dwarves or demons called Duergar. Celtic coun-
tries, Scotland, Brittany, Ireland, Wales, were
always crowded with them. In the " uttermost
mountains of India, under a merry part of heaven,"
or by the hoary Nile, according to other writers,
were the Pigmeos, one cubit high, full-grown at
three years, and old at seven, who fought with
cranes for a livelihood. And the Swiss alchemist,
Paracelsus (a most pompous and amusing old big-
wig), wrote that in his day all Germany was filled
with fairies two feet long, walking about in little
Their favorite color, noticeably in Great Britain,
was green ; the majority of them wore it, and
grudged its adoption by a mortal. Sir Walter
Scott tells us that it was a fatal hue to several
families in his country, to the entire gallant race
of Grahames in particular ; for in battle a Gra-
hame was almost always shot through the green
i8 "brownies and bogles."
check of his plaid. French fairies went in white;
the Nis of Jutland, and many other house-sprites,
in red and gray, or red and brown ; and the plump
Welsh goblins, whose holiday dress was also white,
in the gayest and most varied tints of all. In
North Wales were " the old elves of the blue petti-
coat"; in Cardiganshire was the familiar green
again, though it was never seen save in the month
of May ; and in Pembrokeshire, a uniform of jolly
scarlet gowns and caps. The fairy gentlemen
were quite as much given to finery as the ladies,
and their general air was one of extreme cheer-
ful dandyism. Only the mine and ground-fairies
were attired in sombre colors. Indeed, their idea
of clothes was delightfully liberal ; an elf bespoke
himself by what he chose to wear; and fashions
ranged all the way from the sprites of the Orkney
Islands, who strutted about in armor, to the little
Heinzelmanchen of Cologne, who scorned to be
burdened with so much as a hat !
People accounted in strange ways for their
origin. A legend, firmly held in Iceland, says that
once upon a time Eve was washmg a number of
WHAT FAIRIES WERE AND WHAT THEY DID, I9
her children at a spring, and when the Lord ap-
peared suddenly before her, she hustled and hid
away those who were not already clean and pre-
sentable ; and that they being made forever in-
visible after, became the ancestors of the "little
folk," who pervade the hills and caves and ruins
to this day. In Ireland and Scotland fairies were
spoken of as a wandering remnant of the fallen
angels. The Christian world over, they were
deemed either for a while, or perpetually, to be
locked out from the happiness of the blessed in
the next world. The Bretons thought their Kor-
rigans had been great Gallic princesses, who re-
fused the new faith, and clung to their pagan gods,
and fell under a curse because of their stubborn-
ness. The Small People of Cornwall, too, were
imagined to be the ancient inhabitants of that
country, long before Christ was born, not good
enough for Heaven, and yet too good to be con-
demned altogether, whose fate it is to stray about,
growing smaller and smaller, until by and by they
vanish from the face of the earth.
Therefore the poor fairy-folk, with whom the-
20 "brownies and bogles."
ology deals so rudely, were supposed to be tired
waiting, and anxious to know how they might fare
everlastingly •, and they waylaid many mortals,
who, of course, really could tell them nothing, to
ask whether they might not get into Heaven, by
chance, at the end. It was their chief cause of
doubt and melancholy, and ran in their little
minds from year to year. And since we shall re-
vert no more to the sad side of fairy-life, let us
close with a most sweet story of something which
happened in Sweden, centuries ago.
Two boys were gambolling by a river, when a
Neck rose up to the air, smiling, and twanging
his harp. The elder child watched him, and cried
mockingly : " Neck ! what is the good of your sit-
ting there and playing .'' You will never be saved ! "
And the Neck's sensitive eyes filled with tears,
and, dropping his harp, he sank forlornly to the
bottom. But when the brothers had gone home,
and told their wise and saintly father, he said they
had been thoughtlessly unkind ; and he bade them
hurry back to the river, and comfort the little water-
spirit. From afar off they saw him again on the
WHAT FAIRIES WERE AND WHAT THEY DID, 21
surface, weeping bitterly. And they called to him :
" Dear Neck ! do not grieve ; for our father says
that your Redeemer liveth also." Then he threw
back his bright head, and, taking his harp, sang
and played with exceeding gladness until sunset
was long past, and the first star sent down its
benediction from the sky.
THE forming of character among the fairy-
folk was a very simple and sensible matter.
You will imagine that the Pagan, Druid and Chris-
tian elves varied greatly. And they did; still
their morals had nothing to do with it, nor pride,
nor patriotism, nor descent, nor education ; nor
would all the philosophy you might crowd into a
thimble have made one bee-big resident of Japan
different from a man of his own size in Spain.
They saved themselves no end of trouble by
setting up the local barometer as their standard.
The only Bible they knew was the weather, and
they followed it stoutly. Whatever the climate
was, whatever it had helped to make the grown-up
nation who lived under it, that, every time, were
the " brownies and bogles." Where the land was
FAIRY RULERS. 23
rocky and grim, and subject to wild storms and
sudden darknesses, the fairies were grim and wild
too, and full of wicked tricks. Where the land-
scape was level and green, and the crops grew
peacefully, they were tame, as in central England,
and inclined to be sentimental.
And they copied the distinguishing traits of the
race among whom they dwelt. A frugal Breton
fairy spoke the Breton dialect ; the Neapolitan
had a tooth for fruits and macaroni ; the Chinese
was ceremonious and stern ; a true Provengal
fee was as vain as a peacock, flirting a mirror be-
fore her, and an Irish elf, bless his little red
feathered caubeen ! was never the man to run
away from a fight.
If you look on the map, and see a section of
coast-line like that of Cornwall or Norway, a sun-
shiny, perilous, foamy place, make up your mind
that the fairies thereabouts were fellows worth
knowing ; that you would have needed all your wit
and pluck to get the better of them, and that they
would have made live, hearty playmates, too, while
in good humor, for any brave boy or girl.
24 " BROWNIES AND BOGLES.
We do not know nearly so much about the gen-
uine fairies as we should like. They must have
been, at one time or another, in every European
countr)'. Most of the Oriental spirits were taller,
and of another brood ; they figured either as de-
mons, or as what we should now call angels. But
in the Germanic colonies, from very old days,
fairy-lore was finely developed, and we count up
tribe on tribe of necks, nixies, stromkarls and mer-
maids, who were water-sprites ; of bergmannchen
(little men of the mountain), and lovely wild-women
in hilly places ; of trolls around the woods and
rocks; of elves in the air, and gnomes or duer-
gars in caverns or mines. Yet from Portugal, and
Russia, and Hungary, and from our own North
American Indians, we learn so little that it is
not worth counting.
If the good dear peasants who were acquainted
with the fairies had made more rhymes about them,
and handed them down more attentively ; if it had
occurred to the knowing scholar-monks to keep
diaries of elfin doings, as it would have done had
they but known how soon their little friends were
to be extinct, like the glyptodon and the dodo,
how wise should we not be ! ^
But again, though there were hosts of supernat-
THE NEAPOLITAN FAIRY.
ural beings in the beliefs of every old land, we
have no business with any but the wee ones.
And as these were settled most thickly in the
Teutonic, Celtic and Cymric countries, we will
26 "brownies and bogles."
turn our curiosity thither, without farther grum-
bling, and be glad to get so much authentic news
of them as we may.
Fairies, as a whole, seem at bottom rather weak
and disconsolate. For all of their magic and cun-
ning, for all of their high station, and. its feasting
and glory, they could not keep from seeking human
sympathy. They did, indeed, hurt men, resent in-
trusions, foretell the future, and call down disease
and storm, but they stood in awe of the weakest
mortal because of his superior strength and size ;
they came to him to borrow food and medicine, and
even to ask the loan of his house for their revels.
They rendered themselves invisible, but he had
always at his feet the fern-seed, the talisman of
four-leaved clover (or, as in Scotland, the leaf of
the ash or rowan-tree), with v.'hich he could defeat
their design, and protect himself against the attacks
of any witch, imp, or fairy whatsoever.
Their government was a happ3^-go-lucky affair.
The various tribes of fairies had no common inter-
ests which would make them sigh for post-offices,
or cables, or general synods. Each set of them
FAIRY RULERS. 2J
got along, independent of the rest. Once in a
while a mine-man would live alone with his wife,
pegging away at his daily work, without any idea
of hurrahing for his King or, more likely, his
Queen ; or even of hunting up his own cousins in
the next county.
If we had elves in the United States nowadays,
they would no doubt be American enough to elect
a President and have him as honest, and steady,
and sound-hearted as needs be. But dwelling as
they did in feudal days, they set up thrones and
sceptres all over Fairydom.
According to the poets, Mab and Oberon are
the crowned rulers of the little people. In reality,
they had no supreme head. Among many parties
and factions, each small agreeing community had
its own chief, the tallest of his race, who was no
chief at all, mind you, to the airy neighbors a mile
east. The delicate yellow Chinese fairy-mother
was Si Wang Mu; and in the Netherlands, the
elf-queen, who was also queen of the witches, was
called Wanne Thekla.
We snatch an item here and there of the royal
28 " RROWNIES AND BOGLES."
histories. We find that the sweet-natured Elberich
in the Niebelungen is the same as Oberon. In
Germany was a dwarf-king named Goldemar, who
lived with a knight, shared his bed, played at dice
with him, gave him good advice, called him Broth-
er-in-law very fondly, and comforted him with the
music of his harp. But Goldemar, though the
knight loved him and could touch and feel him,
was unseen. He was like a wreath of blue smoke,
or a fragment of moonlight, and you could run a
sword through him, and never change his kind
smile. His royal hands were lean, and soft, and
cold as a frog's. After three years, perhaps when
Brother-in-law was dead, or when he was married,
and needed him no longer, the gentle dwarf-king
Sinnels, Giibich, and Heiling were other dwarf-
princes, probably rivals of Goldemar, and ready
to have at him till their breath gave out. Their
little majesties were quarrelsome as cock-sparrows.
The elf-monarch Laurin was once conquered by
Theodoric ; and because he had been treacherous
in war (which was not "fair" at all, despite the
proverb), he got a very sad rebuff to his dignity,
in being made fool or buffoon at the court of
We are told in
how the daugh-
ter of Llud Llaw
Ereint was " the
maiden in the
three islands of
the mighty," and
a p N u d d, the
M a y - d a y from
dawn until sunset. Gwyn once carried her off
from Gwythyr, her true lord ; and both lovers
were so furious and cruel against each other that
blessed King Arthur condemned them to wage
bitter fight on each first-of-May till the world's
end ; and to whomsoever is victorious the great-
THE ELF-MONARCH WHO WAS MADE
30 "brownies and bogles.
est number of times, the fair lady shall then be
given. Let us hope the reward will not fall to
We have said that we should do pretty much as
we pleased in ranging the myriad fairy-folk into
ranks and species. If, as we prowl about, we see
a baby in the house of the Elfsmiths, who has a
look of the Elfbrowns, we will immediately kidnap
him from his fond parents, and add him to the
family he resembles. Now that might make wail-
ing and confusion, and bring down vengeance on
our heads, if there were any Queen Mab left to
rap us to order ; but as things go, we shall find it
a very neat way of smoothing difficulties.
Of course there are certain pigwidgeons too ac-
complished, too slippery, too many things in one,
to be ticketed and tied down like the rest ; such
versatile fellows as the Brown Dwarves of the Isle
of Riigen, for instance. They lived in what were
called the Vine-hills, and were not quite eighteen
inches high. They wore little snuff-brown jackets
and a brown cap (which made them invisible,
and allowed them to pass through the smallest key-
hole), with one wee silver bell at its peak, not to
be lost for any mone}-. But they did some roguish
things; and children who fell into their hands
had to serve them for fifty years ! With caprice
THE ISLE OF RUGEN DWARVES THAT GIVE PRESENTS TO
usual to their kin, they will, on other occasions,
befriend and -protect children, and give them pres-
ents ; or plague untidy servants, like Brownie, or
lead travellers astray by night into bogs and
32 "brownies and bogles."
marshes, like the Ellydan and the Fir-Darrig, and
mischievous double-faced Robin Goodfellow him-
An ancient tradition says that while the grass-
blades are sprouting at the root, the earth-elves
water and nourish them; and the moment the
growth pierces the soil, affectionate air-elves take
it in charge. Therefore we borrow a hint from
the grass ; and after first going down among the
swarthy fairies who burrow underground, we shall
pass up to companionship with little beings so
beautiful that wherever they flock there is star-
light and song.
THE BLACK ELVES.
ACCORDING to the very old Scandinavian
notion, land-fairies were of two sorts; the
Light or Good Elves who dwelt in air, or out-of-
doors on the earth, and the Black or Evil Elves
who dwelt beneath it.
We will follow the Norse folk. If we were re-
quired to group human beings under two headings,
we should choose that same Good and Evil, be-
cause the division occurs to one naturally, because
it saves time, and because everybody comprehends
it, and sees that it is based upon law ; and so do
we deal with our wonder-friends, who have the
strange moral sorcery belonging to each of us their
masters, to help or to harm.
The evil fairies, then, were the scowling under-
ground tribes, who hid themselves from the frank
34 "brownies and bogles.**
daylight, and the open reaches of the fields. Yet
just as the good fairies had many a sad failing
to offset their grace and charm, the grim, dark-
skinned manikins had sudden impulses towards
honor and kindness. In fact, as we noted before,
they were astonishingly like our fellow-creatures,
of whom scarce any is entirely faultless, or en-
tirely warped and ruined.
For instance, the Hill-men, in Switzerland, were
very generous-minded ; they drove home stray
lambs at night, and put berry-bushes in the way
of poor children. And the more modern Dwarves
of Germany, frequenting the clefts of rocks, were
silent, mild, and well-disposed, and apt to bring
presents to those who took their fancy. Like
others of the elf-kingdom, they loved to borrow
from mortals. Once a little bowing Dwarf came
to a lady for the loan of her silk gown for a fairy-
bride. (You can imagine that, at the ceremony,
the groom must have had a pretty hunt among the
wilderness of finery to get at her ring-finger!)
Of course the lady gave it ; but worrying over its
tardy return, she went to the Dwarves' hill and
THE BLACK ELVES.
asked for it aloud. A messenger with a sorrowful
countenance brought it to her at once, spotted
over and over with wax. But he told her that
THE DWARF THAT BORROWED THE SILK GOWN.
had she been less impatient every stain would
have been a diamond !
The huge, terrible, ogre-like Hindoo Rakshas,
the weird Divs and Jinns of Persia, and the an-
^6 "brownies and bogles."
cient demon-dwarves of the south called Panis,
may be considered the foster-parents of our dwin-
dled minims, as the glorious Peris on the other
hand gave their name, and some of their qualities,
to a little European family of very different an-
The Black Elves will serve as our general name
for dwarves and mine-fairies. These are closely
connected in all legends, live in the same neigh-
borhoods, and therefore claim a mention together.
They have four points in common : dark skin ;
short, bulky bodies ; fickle and irritable natures ;
and ' occupations as miners, misers, or metal-
smiths. And because of their exceeding industry,
on the old maxim's authority, where all work and
no play made Jack a dull boy, they are curiously
heavy-headed and preposterous jacks; and, waiv-
ing their plain faces, not in any wise engaging.
Yet perhaps, being largely German, they may be
philosophers, and so vastly superior to any little
gabbling, somersaulting ragamuffin over in Ireland.
In the Middle Ages, they were described as
withered and leering, with small, sharp, snapping
THE BLACK ELVES. 37
black eyes, bright as gems ; with cracked voices,
and matted hair, and horns peering from it ! and
as if that were not enough adornment, they had
claws, which must have been filched from the
ghosts of mediaeval pussycats, on their fingers
The first Duergars belonging to the Gotho-Ger-
man mythology, were muscular and strong-legged ;
and when they stood erect, their arms reached to
the ground. They were clever and expert hand-
lers of metal, and made of gold, silver and iron,
the finest armor in the world. They wrought for
Odin his great spear, and for Thor his hammer,
and for Frey the wondrous ship Skidbladnir.
Long ago, too, armor-making Elves, black as
pitch, lived in Svart-Alfheim, in the bowels of the
earth, and were able, by their glance or touch or
breath, to cause sickness and death wheresoever
Still uglier were the Black Dwarves of the mys-
terious Isle of Riigen; nor had they any frolic-
some or cordial ways which should bring up our
opinion of them. Their pale eyes ran water, and
RROWNIES AND BOGLES.
every midnight they mewed and screeched hor-
ribly from their holes. In idle summer-hours they
sat under the elder-trees, planning by twos and
and threes to wreak mischief on mankind. They,
as well, were once useful, if not beautiful ; for in
THE BLACK DWARVES OF RUGEN PLANNING MISCHIEF.
the days when heroes wore a panoply of steel, the
Black Dwarves wrought fair helmets and corselets
of cobwebby mail which no lance could pierce,
and swords flexible as silk which could unhorse
the miglitiest foe. The little blackamoors fre-
quented mining districts, and dug for ore on their
THE BLACK ELVES. 39
own account. They were said to be very rich,
owning unnumbered chests stored underground.
The most exciting tales about gnomes of all na-
tions were founded on the efforts of daring mor-
tals to get possession of their wealth.
To the mining division belong the dwarf-Trolls
of Denmark and Sweden (for there were giant-
Trolls as well), and the whimsical Spriggans of
Cornwall. The Trolls burrowed in mounds and
hills, and were called also Bjerg-folk or Hill-folk;
they lived in societies or families, baking and brew-
ing, marrying and visiting, in the old humdrum
way. They made fortunes, and hoarded up heaps
of money. But they were often obliging and be-
nevolent ; it gave them pleasure to bestow gifts,
to lend and borrow, and sometimes, alas ! to steal.
They played prettily on musical instruments, and
were very jolly. People used to see the stumpy
little children of the genteel Troll who lived at
Kund in Jutland, climbing up the knoll which
was the roof of their own house, and rolling down
one after the other with shouts of laughter. The
Trolls were famous gymnasts, and very plump and
BROWNIES AND BOGLES.
round. Our word " droll " is left to us in merry
remembrance of them.
They were tractable creatures, as you may know
from the tale of the farmer, who, ploughing an
THE troll's children.
angry Troll's land, agreed, for the sake of peace,
to go halves in the crops sown upon it, so that
one year the Troll should have what grew above
ground, and the next year what grew under. But
the sly farmer planted radishes and carrots, and
THE BLACK ELVES. 41
the Troll took the tops; and the following season
he planted corn ; and his queer partner gathered
up the roots and marched off in triumph. In-
deed, it was so easy to outwit the simple Troll
that a generous farmer would never have pla3'ed
the game out, and we should have lost our little
story. It was mean to take advantage of the sweet
fellow's trustfulness. There was an English school-
master once, a man wise, firm, and kind, and of
vast influence, of whom one of his boys said to
another : " It's a shame to tell a lie to Arnold ; he
always believes it." That was a ray of real chiv-
The Spriggans were fond of dwelling near walls
and loose stones, with which it was unlucky to
tamper, and where they slipped in and out with
suspicious eyes, guarding their buried treasure.
If a house was robbed, or the cattle were carried
away, or a hurricane swooped down on a Cornish
village, the neighbors attributed their trouble to
the Spriggans; whereby you may believe they
had fine reputations for meddlesomeness. Their
cousins, the Buccas, Bockles or Knockers, were
■BROWNIES AND BOGLES.
gentlemen who went about thumping and rap-
ping wherever there was a vein of ore for the
weary workmen, cheating, occasionally, to break
The Welsh Coblynau followed the same pro-
fession, and pointed out
the desired places in
mines and quarries.
The Coblynau were cop-
per-colored, and very
homely, as were all the
pigmies who lived away
from the sun ; they were
high, who imitated the
dress of their friends the miners, and pegged away
at the rocks, like them, with great noise and gusto,
accomplishing nothing. Their houses were far-
removed from mortal vision, and unlike certain
proper children, now obsolete, the Coblynau them-
selves were generally heard, but not seen.
Their German relation was the Wichtlein (little
wight) an extremely small fellow, whom the Bohe-
THE BLACK. ELVES. 43
mians named Hans-schniledlein (little John Smith !)
because he makes a noise like the stroke of an
Dwarves and mine-men went about, unfailingly,
with a purseful of gold. But if anyone snatched
it from them, only stones and twine and a pair of
scissors were to be found in it. The Leprechaun,
or Cluricaune, whom we shall meet later as the
fairy-cobbler, was an Irish celebrity who knew
where pots of guineas were hidden, and who car-
ried in his pocket a shilling often-spent and ever-
renewed. He looked, in this banker-like capacity,
a clumsy small boy, dressed in various ways, some-
times in a long coat and cocked hat, unlike the
Danish Troll, who kept to homely gray, with the
universal little red cap. Even the respectable
Kobold, who was, virtually, a house-spirit, caught
the fever of fortune-hunting, and often threw up
his domestic duties to seek the fascinating nug-
gets in the mines.
There is a funny anecdote of a Troll who, as
was common with his race, cunningly concealed
his prize under the shape of a coal, Now a peas-
44 "brownies and bogles.
ant on his way to church one bright Sunday
morning saw him trying vainly to move a couple
of crossed straws which had blown upon his coal ;
for anything in the shape of a cross seemed to
shrivel up an elf's power in the most startling
manner. So the little sprite turned, half-crying,
and begged the peasant to move the straws for
him. But the man was too shrewd for that, and
took up the coal, straws and all, and ran, despite
the poor Troll's screaming, and saw, on reaching
home, that he had captured a lump of solid gold.
All Black Elves were particular about their
neighborhoods, and a whole colony would migrate
at once if they took the least offence, or if the
villagers about got "too knowing" for them.
(An American poet once wrote a sonnet "To
Science," in which he berated her for having
made him " too knowing," and for having driven
— " the Naiad from her flood
The elfin from the green grass " ;
and it was in consequence of his very knowiugness,
no doubt, that, beauty-loving and marvel-loving
as were his sensitive eyes, they never saw so much
THE BLACK ELVES. 45
as the vanishing shadow of a fairy.) A little
dwarf-woman told two young Bavarians that she
intended to leave her favorite dwelling, because
of the shocking cursing and swearing of the coun-
try-people ! But they were not all so godly.
Ever since the great god Thor threw his ham-
mer at the Trolls, they have hated noise as much
as Mr. Thomas Carlyle, who, however, made
Thor's own bluster in the world himself. They
sought sequestered places that they might not be
disturbed. The Prussian mites near Dardesheim
were frightened away by the forge and the factory.
Above all else, church-bells distressed them, and
spoiled their tem-
pers. A huckster once
passed a Danish Troll,
on a stone, and asked
him what the matter
might be. " I hate to
leave this country," "i can't stay any longer I"
blubbered the fat mourner, " but I can't stay where
there is such an eternal ringing and dinging ! "
THE LIGHT ELVES.
OVER the beautiful Light Elves of the Edda,
in old Scandinavia, ruled the beloved sun-
god Frey ; and they lived in a summer land called
Alfheim, and it was their office to sport in air or
on the leaves of trees, and to make the earth
But they changed character as centuries passed ;
and they came to resemble the fairies of Great
Britain in their extreme waywardness and fickle-
ness. For though they were fair and benevolent
most of the time, they could be, when it so pleased
them, ugly and hurtful ; and what they could be,
they very often were ; for fairies were not expected
to keep a firm rein on their moods and tempers.
Norwegian peasants described some of their
Huldrafolk as tiny bare boys, with tall hats ; and
THE LIGHT ELVES, 47
in Sweden, as well, they were slender and delicate.
When a Swedish elf-maid or moon-maid wished
to approach the inmates of a house, she rode on
a sunbeam through the keyhole, or between the
openings in a shutter.
The German wild-women were like them, going
about alone, and having fine hair flowing to their
feet. They had some odd traits, one of which was
sermonizing! and exhorting stray mortals who had
done them a service, to lead a godly life.
The elle-maid in Denmark and in neighboring
countries was always winsome and graceful, and
carried an enchanted harp. She loved moonlight
best, and was a charming dancer. But her evil
element was in her very beauty, with which she en-
trapped foolish young gentlemen, and waylaid them,
and carried them off who knows whither ? She
could be detected by the shape of her back, it
being hollow, like a spoon ; which was meant to
show that there was something wrong with her,
and that she was not what she seemed, but fit
only for the abhorrence of passers-by. The elle-
man, her mate, was old and ill-favored, a disa-
"brownies and bogles."
greeable person ; for if any one came near him
while he was bathing in the sun, he opened his
mouth and breathed pestilence upon them.
AN ELLE-MAID, OF DENMARK.
A common trait of the air-fairies was to assist
at a birth and give the infant, at their will, good
and bad gifts. Dame Bertha, the White Lady of
THE LIGHT ELVES.
Germany, came to the birth of certain princely
babes, and the Kerrigans made it a general prac-
BERTHA, THE WHITE LAUY,
tice. Whenever they nursed or tended a new-born
mortal, bestowed presents on him and foretold
his destiny, one of the little people was almost
50 "BROWNIES AND BOGLES.
always perverse enough to bestow and foretell
something unfortunate. You all know Grimm's
beautiful tale of Dornroschen, which in English
we call The Sleeping Beauty, where the jealous
thirteenth fairy predicts the poor young lady's
spindle-wound. Around the famous Roche des
Fe'es in the forest of Theil, are those who believe
yet that the elves pass in and out at the chimneys,
on errands to little children.
The modern Greek fairies haunted trees, danced
rounds, bathed in cool water, and carried off
whomsoever they coveted. A person offending
them in their own fields was smitten with disease.
The Chinese Shan Sao were a foot high, lived
among the mountains, and were afraid of nothing.
They, too, were revengeful ; for if they were at-
tacked or annoyed by mortals, they " caused them
to sicken with alternate heat and cold." Bonfires
were burnt to drive them away.
The innocent White Dwarves of the Isle of
Riigen in the Baltic Sea, made lace-work of silver,
too fine for the eye to detect, all winter long ; but
came idly out into the woods and fields with re-
THE LIGHT ELVES.
turning spring, leaping and singing, and wild with
affectionate joy. They were not allowed to ram-
ble about in their own shapes ; therefore they
changed themselves to doves and butterflies, and
SOME GREEK FAIRIES.
winged their way to good mortals, whom they
guarded from all harm.
The Korrigans of Brittainy, mentioned a while
ago, were peculiar in many ways. They had beau-
tiful singing voices and bright eyes, but they never
52 " BROWNIES AND BOGLES.
danced. They preferred to sit still at twilight,
like mermaids, combing their long golden hair.
The tallest of them was nearly two feet high, fair
as a lily, and transparent as dew itself, yet able
as the rest to seem dark, and humpy, and terrify-
ing. He who passed the night with them, or
joined in their sports, was sure to die shortly,
since their very breath or touch was fatal. And
again, as in the case of Seigneur Nann, about
whom a touching Breton ballad was made, they
doomed to death any who refused to marry one of
them within three days.
Of the American Indian fairies we do not know
much. In Mr. Schoolcraft's books of Indian
legends there is a beautiful little Bone-dwarf, who
may almost be considered a fairy. In the land of
the Sioux they tell the pretty story of Antelope
and Karkapaha, and how the wee warrior-folk,
thronging on the hill, clad in deerskin, and armed
with feathered arrow and spear, put the daring
heart of a slain enemy into the breast of the timid
lover, Karkapaha, and made him worthy both to
win and keep his lovely maiden, and to deserve
THE LIGHT ELVES.
homage for his bravery, from her tribe and his.
Some of you will remember one thing against the
Puk-Wudjies, which is an Algonquin name mean-
ing "little vanishing folk," to wit: that they killed
Hiawatha's friend, " the very strong man Kwa-
sind," as our Longfellow called him. He had ex-
cited their envy, and they flung on his head, as he
floated in his canoe, the only thing on earth that
could kill him, the seed-vessel of the white pine.
The Scotch, Irish and English overground fair-
ies were, as a general thing, very much alike.
They had the power of becoming visible or invisi-
ble, compressing or enlarging their size, and taking
any shape they pleased. When an Irish Shefro
was disturbed or angry, and wanted to get a house
or a person off her grounds, she put on the
strangest appearances : she could crow, spit fire,
slap a tail or a hoof about, grin like a dragon, or
give a frightful, weird, lion-like roar. Of course
the object of her polite attentions thought it best
to oblige her. If she and her companions were
anxious to enter a house, they lifted the spryest of
their number to the keyhole, and pushed him
54 BROWNIES AND BOGLES.
through. He Ci)rried a piece of string, which he
fastened to the inside knob, and the other end
to a chair or stool ; and over this perilous bridge
the whole giggling tribe marched in one by one.
The Irish and Scotch fays were more mischievous
than the English, but have not fared so well, hav-
ing had no memorable verses made about them.
The little Scots were sometimes dwarfish wild
creatures, wrapped in their plaids, or, oftener,
comely and yellow-haired ; the ladies in green
mantles, inlaid with wild-flowers; and dapper little
gentlemen in green trousers, fastened with bobs
of silk. They carried arrows, and went on tiny
spirited horses, as did the Welsh fairies, " the sil-
ver bosses of their bridles jingling in the night-
breeze." An old account of Scotland says that
they were "clothed in green, with dishevelled hair
floating over their shoulders, and faces more bloom-
ing than the vermeil blush of a summer morning."
Their Welsh cousins were many. A native poet
once sang of them :
In every liollow,
A huiidred vvrv-mouthed elves.
THE LIGHT ELVES. 55
They were queer little beings, and had notions of
what was decorous, for they combed the goats'
beards every Friday night, " to make them decent
for Sunday ! " They were very quarrelsome ; you
could hear them snarling and jabbering like jays
among themselves, so that in some parts of Wales
a proverb has arisen : " They can no more agree
than the fairies 1 " The inhabitants believed that
the midgets never had courage to go through the
gorse, or prickly furze, which is a common shrub
in that country. One sick old woman who was
bothered by the Tylwyth Teg (" the fair family ")
souring her milk and spilling her tea, used to
choke up her room with the furze, and make such
a hedge about the bed, that nothing larger than a
needle could be so much as pointed at her. In
Breconshire the Tylwyth Teg gave loaves to the
peasantry, which, if they were not eaten then and
there in the dark, would turn in the morning into
toadstools! When Welsh fairies took it into their
heads to bestow food and money, very lazy people
were often supported in great style, without a
stroke of work. And the Tylwyth Teg loved to
56 "brownies and bogles."
reward patience and generosity. They played
the harp continuously, and, on grand occasions,
the bugle ; but if a bagpipe was heard among
them, that indicated a Scotch visitor from over
King James i. of England mentions in his
Dcemonology a " King and Queene of Phairie : sic
a jolie courte and traine as they had ! " Nothing
could have exceeded the state and elegance of
their ceremonious little lives. According to a
sweet old play, they had houses made all of
mother-of-pearl, an ivory tennis-court, a nutmeg
parlor, a sapphire dairy-room, a ginger hall; cham-
bers of agate, kitchens of crystal, the jacks of
gold, the spits of Spanish needles ! They dressed
in imported cobweb ! with a four-leaved clover,
lined with a dog-tooth violet, for overcoat; and
they ate (think of eating such a pretty thing !) deli-
cious rainbow-tart, the trout-fly's gilded wing, and
the broke heart of a nightingale
O'ercome with music.
But we never heard that Chinese or Scandinavian
elves could afford such luxury.
THE LIGHT ELVES. 57
Their English dwellings were often in the bub-
ble-castles of sunny brooks ; and the bright-jack-
eted hobgoblins took their i^leasure sitting under
toadstools, or paddling about in egg-shell boats,
playing jew's-harps large as themselves. Beside
the freehold of blossomy hillocks and dingles,
they had dells of their own, and palaces, with
everything lovely in them ; and whatever they
longed for was to be had for the wishing. They
had fair gardens in clefts of the Cornish rocks,
where vari-colored flowers, only seen by moonlight,
grew ; in these gardens they loved to walk, tossing
a posy to some mortal passing by; but if he ever
gave it away they were angry with him forever
after. They liked to fish ; and the crews put out
to sea in funny uniforms of green, with red caps.
They travelled on a fern, a rush, a bit of weed, or
even boldly bestrode the bee and the dragon-fly ;
and they went to the chase, as in the Isle of
Man, on full-sized horses whenever they could get
them ! and when it came to time of war, their ar-
mies laid-to like Alexander's own, with mushroom-
shield and bearded grass-blades for mighty spears,
BROWNIES AND BOGLES.
and honeysuckle trumpets braying furiously !
There are traditions of battles so vehement and
long that the cavalry trampled down the dews of
the mountain -side,
and sent many a
peerless fellow, at
every charge, to the
fairy hospitals and
Their chief and all
but universal amuse-
ment, sacred to moon-
light and music, was
dancing hand- in-
hand ; and what was called a fairy-ring was the
swirl of grasses in a field taller and deeper green
than the rest, which was supposed to mark their
circling path. Inside these rings it was consid-
ered very dangerous to sleep, especially after sun-
down. If you put your foot within them, with a
companion's foot upon your own, the elfin tribe
became visible to you, and you heard their tink-
ling laughter ; and if, again, you wished a charm
THE LIGHT ELVES. 59
to defy all their anger, for they hated to be over-
looked by mortal eyes, you had merely to turn
your coat inside out. But a house built where the
wee folks had danced was made prosperous.
Hear how deftly old John Lyly, nearly four hun-
dred years ago, put the dancing in his lines :
Round about, round about, in a fine ling-a,
Thus we dance, thus we prance, and thus we sing-a !
Trip and go, to and fro, over this green-a ;
All about, in and out, for our brave queen-a.
For the elves, as we know, were governed gen-
erally by a queen, who bore a white wand, and
stood in the centre while her gay retainers skipped
about her. Fairy-rings were common in every
Irish parish. At Alnwick in Northumberland
County in England, was one celebrated from an-
tiquity ; and it was believed that evil would befall
any who ran around it more than nine times.
The children were constantly running it that
often ; but nothing could tempt the bravest of
them all to go one step farther. In France, as in
Wales, the fairies guarded the cromlechs with
care, and preferred to hold revel near them.
6o "brownies and bogles."
At these merry festivals, in the pauses of action,
meat and drink were passed around. A Danish
ballad tells how Svend-Falling drained a horn
presented by elf-maids, which made him as strong
as twelve men, and gave him the appetite of twelve
men, too ; a natural but embarrassing consequence.
It used to be proclaimed that any one daring
enough to rush on a fairy feast, and snatch the
drinking-glass, and get away with it, would be
lucky henceforward. The famous goblet, the
Luck of Edenhall, was seized after that fashion,
by one of the Musgraves ; whereat the little peo-
ple disappeared, crying aloud :
If that glass do break or fall,
Farewell the Luck of Edenhall !
Once upon a time the Duke of Wharton dined at
Edenhall, and came very near ruining his host,
and all his race ; for the precious Luck slipped
from his hand ; but the clever butler at his elbow
happily caught it in his napkin, and averted the
catastrophe : so the beautiful cup and the favored
family enjoy each other in security to this day.
THE LIGHT ELVES. 6l
In the Song of Sir Olaf, we are told how he fell
in, while riding by night, with the whirling elves;
and how, after their every plea and threat that he
should stay from his to-be-wedded sweetheart at
home, and dance, instead, with them, he hears the
weird French refrain :
O the dance, the dance ! How well the dance goes under
the trees !
And through their wicked magic, after all his
steadfast resistance, with the wild music and the
dizzy measure whirling in his brain, there he
All the gay, unsteady, fantastic motion broke
up at the morning cock-crow, and instantly the
little bacchantes vanished. And, strangest of all !
the betraying flash of the dawn showed their
peach-like color, their blonde, smooth hair, and
bodily agility changed, like a Dead Sea apple, and
turned into ugliness and distortion ! It was not the
lovely vision of a minute back which hurried away
on the early breeze, but a crowd of leering, sullen-
eyed bugaboos, laughing fiercely to think how
they had deceived a beholder.
62 "BROWNIES AND BOGLES."
These, then, were the Light Elves, not all lova-
ble, or loyal, or gentle, as they were expected to
be, but cruel to wayfarers like poor Sir Olaf, and
treacherous and mocking; beautiful so long as
they were good, and hideous when they had done
a foul deed. It is hard to say wherein they were
better than the Underground Elves, who were,
despite some kindly characteristics, professional
doers of evil, and had not the choice or chance
of being so happy and fortunate. But we record
them as we find them, not without the sobering
thought that here, as at every point, the fairies
are a running commentary on the puzzle of our
own human life. •
BROWNIE, the willing drudge, the kind little
housemate, was the most popular of all
fairies ; and it is he whom we now love and know
He was a sweet, unselfish fellow; but very wide
awake as well, full of mischief, and spirited as a
young eagle, when he was deprived of his rights.
He belonged to a tribe of great influence and
size, and each division of that tribe, inhabiting
different countries, bore a different name. But
the word Brownie, to English-speaking people,
will serve as meaning those fairies who attached
themselves persistently to any spot or any family,
and who labored in behalf of their chosen home.
The Brownie proper belonged to the Shetland
and the Western Isles, to Cornwall, and the High-
64 "brownies and bogles."
lands and Borderlands of Scotland. He was an
indoor gentleman, and varied in that from our
friends the Black and Light Elves. He took up
his dwelling in the house or the barn, sometimes
in a special corner, or under the roof, or even in
the cellar pantries, where he ate a great deal
more than was good for him. In the beginning he
was supposed to have been covered with short
curly brown hair, like a clipped water-spaniel,
whence his name. But he changed greatly in
appearance. Later accounts picture him with a
homely, sunburnt little face, as if bronzed with
long wind and weather : dark-coated, red-capped,
and shod with noiseless slippers, which were as
good as wings to his restless feet. Along with
him, in Scotch houses, and in English houses
supplanting him, often lived the Dobie or Dobbie
who was not by any means so bright and active
(" O, ye stupid Dobie ! " runs a common phrase),
and therefore not to be confounded with him.
Brownie's delight was to do domestic service ; he
churned, baked, brewed, mowed, threshed, swept,
scrubbed, and dusted ; he set things in order,
saved many a step to his mistress, and took it
upon himself to manage the maid-servants, and
reform them, if necessary, by severe and original
brownie's delight was to no domestic service.
measures. Neatness and precision he dearly
loved, and never forgot to drop a penny over-night
in the shoe of the person deserving well of him.
But lax offenders he pinched black and blue, and
66 " BROWNIES AND BOGLES."
led them an exciting life of it. His favorite re-
venge, among a hundred equally ingenious, was
dragging the disorderly servant out of bed. A
great poet announced in Brownie's name :
'Twixt sleep and wake
I do them take,
And on the key-cold floor them throw!
If out they cry
Then forth I fly,
And loudly laugh I : " Ho, ho, ho ! "
Like all gnomes truly virtuous, he could be the
worst varlet, the most meddlesome, troublesome,
burdensome urchin to be imagined, when the whim
was upon him. At such times he gloried in un-
doing all his good deeds ; and by way of empha-
sizing his former tidiness and industrj*, he tore
curtains, smashed dishes, overturned tables, and
made havoc among the kitchen-pans. All this
was done in a sort of holy wrath ; for be it to
Brownie's credit, that if he were treated with
courtesy, and if the servants did their own duties
honestly, he was never other than his gentle, well-
behaved, hard-working little self.
DEAR BROWNIE. 67
He asked no wages; he had a New England
scorn of " tipping," when he had been especially
obliging; and he could not be wheedled into ac-
cepting even so much as a word of praise. A
•farmer at Washington, in Sussex, England, who
had often been surprised in the morning at the
large heaps of corn threshed for him during the
night, determined at last to sit up and watch what
went on. Creeping to the barn-door, and peering
through a chink, he saw two manikins working
away with their fairy flails, and stopping an in-
stant now and then, only to say to each other:
" See how I sweat ! See how I sweat ! " the very
thing which befell Milton's "lubbar fiend" in
L' Allegro. The farmer, in his pleasure, cried :
" Well done, my little men ! " whereupon the star-
tled sprites uttered a cry, and whirled and whisked
out of sight, never to toil again in his barn.
It is said that not long ago, there was a whole
tribe of tiny, naked Kobolds (Brownie's German
name) called Heinzelmanchen, who bound them-
selves for love to a tailor of Cologne, and did,
moreover, all the washing and scouring and kettle-
68 " BROWNIES AND BOGLES."
cleaning for his wife. Whatever work there was
left for them to do was straightway done ; but no
man ever beheld them. The tailor's prying spouse
played many a ruse to get sight of them, to no
avail. And they, knowing her curiosity and grieved
at it, suddenly marched, with music playing, out
of the town forever. People heard their flutes
and viols only, for none saw the little exiles them-
selves, who got into a boat, and sailed "westward,
westward ! " like Hiawatha, and the city's luck is
thought to have gone with them.
B|it Brownie, who would take neither money,
nor thanks, nor a glance of mortal eyes, and who
departed in high dudgeon as soon as a reward
was offered him, could be bribed very prettily, if
it were done in a polite and secretive way. He
was not too scrupulous to pocket whatever might
be dropped on a stair, or a window-sill, where he
was sure to pass several times in a day, and walk
off, whistling, to keep his own counsel, and say
nothing about it. And for goodies, mysterious
goodies left m queer places by chance, he had
excellent tooth. Housewives, from the era of
DEAR BROWNIE, 69
the first Brownie, never failed slyly to gladden his
favorite haunt with the dish which he liked best,
and which, so long as it was fresh and plentiful,
he considered a satisfactory squaring-up of ac-
counts. One of these desired treats was knuckled
cakes, made of meal warm from the mill, toasted
over the embers, and spread with honey. To
other tidbits, also, he was partial ; but, first and
last, he relished his bowl of cream left on the
floor overnight. Cream he drank and expected
the world over ; and in Devon, and in the Isle of
Man, he liked a basin of water for a bath. .
Fine clothes were quite to his mind ; he was
very vain when he had them; and it was what Pet
Marjorie called " majestick pride," and no whim
of anger or sensitiveness, which sent him hurry-
ing ofif the moment his wardrobe was supplied by
some grateful housekeeper, to eschew work for-
ever after, and set himself up as a gentleman of
leisure. Many funny stories are told of his be-
havior under an unexpected shower of dry goods.
Brownie, who in his humble station, was so stead-
fast and sensible, had his poor head completely
BROWNIES AND BOGLES.
turned b)' the vision of a new bright-colored
jacket. The gentle little Piskies or Pixies of
Devonshire, who are of the Brownie race, and
BROWNIE RELISHES HIS BOWL OF CREAM.
very different from the malicious Piskies in Corn-
wall, were likewise great dandies, and sure to
decamp as soon as ever they obtained a fresh cap
DEAR BROWNIE. 7 I
or petticoat. Indeed, they dropped violent hints
on the subject. Think of a sprite-of-all-work, re-
corded as being too proud to accept any regular
payment even in fruit or grain, standing up bra-
zenly before his mistress, his sly eyes fixed on
her, drawling out this absurd, whimpering rhyme
(for Piskies scorned to talk prose !) :
Little risky, fair and slim,
Without a rag to cover him !
With his lisp, and his funny snicker, and his
winning impudence generally, don't you think he
could have wheedled clothes out of a stone ? Of
course the lady humored him, and made him a
costly, trimmed suit; and the ungrateful small
beggar mads off with it post-haste, chanting to
another tune :
Pisky fine, Pisky gay !
Pisky now will run away.
The moment the Brownie-folk could cut a re-
spectable figure in fashionable garments, they
turned their backs on an honest living, and skur-
ried away to astonish the belles in Fairyland.
Very much the same thing befell some German
72 "rrownies and bogles.
house-dwarves, who used to help a poor smith,
and make his kettles and pans for him. They
took their milk evening by evening, and went
back gladly to their work, to the smith's great
profit and pleasure. When he had grown rich,
his thankful wife made them pretty crimson coats
and caps, and laid both where the wee creatures
might stumble on them. But when they had put
the uniforms on, they shrieked " Paid off, paid
off ! " and, quitting a task half-done, returned no
The Pisky was not alone in his bold request
for his sordid little heart's desire. A certain
Piick lived thirty years in a monastery in Meck-
lenburg, Germany, doing faithful drudgery from
his youth up ; and one of the monks wrote, in his
ingenious Latin, that on going away, all he asked
was '■'tufiicam de diversis coloribus, et tintitmabulis
plaiam!" You may put the goblin's vanity into
English for yourselves. Brownie is known as
Shelley-coat in parts of Scotland, from a German
term meaning bell, as he wears a bell, like the
Riigen Dwarves, on his parti-colored coat.
The famous Cauld Lad of Hilton was con-
sidered a Brownie. If everything was left well-
arranged in the rooms, he amused himself by
•' Tunicam de diversis coloribus, et tintinnabulis plenani ' " WAS
ALL THAT PUCK DEMANDED.
night with pitching chairs and vases about ; but if
he found the place in confusion, he kindly went
to work and put it in exquisite order. But the
Cauld Lad was, more likely, by his own confession,
74 "brownies and bogles.
a ghost, and no true fairy. Romances were told
of him, and he had been heard to sing this canti-
cle, which makes you wonder whether he had ever
heard of the House that Jack Built :
Wae's me, wae's nie !
The acorn's not yet fallen from the tree
That's to grow the wood that's to make the cradle
That's to rock the bairn that's to grow to the man
That's to lay me !
It was only ghosts who could be "laid," and to
"lay" him meant to give him freedom and re-
lease, so that he need no longer go about in that
bareboned and mournful state.
But the merriest grig of all the Brownies was
called in Southern Scotland, Wag-at-the-Wa'. He
teased the kitchen-maids much by sitting under
their feet at the hearth, or on the iron crook
which hung from the beam in the chimney, and
which, of old, was meant to accommodate pots
and kettles. He loved children, and he loved
jokes ; his laugh was very distinct and pleasant ;
but if he heard of anybody drinking anything
stronger than home-brewed ale, he would cough
virtuously, and frown upon the company. Now
Wag-at-the-Wa' had the toothache all the time,
and, considering his
twinges, was it not
good of him to be
so cheerful ? He
wore a great red-
woollen coat and
blue trousers, and
sometimes a grey
cloak over; and he
shivered even then,
with one side of his
poor face bundled
up, till his head
seemed big as a cab-
bage. He looked
impish and wrinkled,
too, and had short
bent legs. But his
beautiful, clever tail atoned for everything, and
with it, he kept his seat on the swinging crook.
Scotch fairies called Powries and Dunters
7$ "brownies and bogles.''
haunted lonely Border-mansions, and behaved like
peaceable subjects, beating flax from year to year.
The Dutch Kaboutermannekin worked in mills, as
well as in houses. He was gentle and kind, but
** touchy," as Brownie-people are. Though he
dressed gayly in red, he was not pretty, but
boasted a fine green tint on his face and hands.
Little Killmoulis was a mill-haunting brother of
his, who loved to lie before the fireplace in the
kiln. This precious old employee was blest with
a most enormous nose, and with no mouth at all !
But he had a great appetite for pork, however he
managed to gratify it,
Bolieta, a Swiss Kobold, distinguished himself
by leading cows safely through the dangerous
mountain-paths, and keeping them sleek and
happy. His branch of the family lived as often
in the trunk of a near tree, as in the house itself.
In Denmark and Sweden was the Kirkegrim,
the " church lamb," who sometimes ran along the
aisles and the choir after ser\nce-time, and to the
grave-digger betokened the death of a little child.
But there was another Kirkegrim, a proper church-
DEAR BROWNIK. 77
Brownie, who kept the pews neat, and looked
after people who misbehaved during the sermon.
As queer as any of these was the Phynodderee,
or the Hairy One, the Isle of Man house-helper.
He was a wild little shaggy being, supposed to be
an exile from fairy society, and condemned to
wander about alone until doomsday. He was
kind and obliging, and drove the sheep home, or
gathered in the hay, if he saw a storm coming.
The Klabautermann was a ship-Brownie, who
sat under the capstan, and in time of danger,
warned the crew by running up and down the
shrouds in great excitement. This eccentric Fly-
ing Dutchman had a fiery red head, and on it a
steeple-like hat ; his yellow breeches were tucked
into heavy horseman's boots.
HUttchen was a German Brownie, who lived at
court, but who dressed like a little peasant, with
a flapping felt hat over his eyes. The Alraun,
a sort of house-imp shorn of all his engaging
diligence, was very small, his body being made
of a root ; he lived in a bottle. If he was thrown
away, back he came, persistently as a rubber ball.
78 " BROWNIES AND BOGLES."
But that instinct was common to the Brownie
The Roman Penates, Vinculi terrei, which brave
old Reginald Scott called " domesticall gods,"
were Brownie's venerable and honorable ances-
tors. We shall see presently v.-hat names their
descendants bore in various countries. But the
Russian Domovoi we shall not count among them,
because they were ghostly, like the poor Cauld
Lad, and seem to have been full-sized.
IN modern Greece the Brownie was known as
the Stoechia. He was called Para in Fin-
land ; Trasgo or Duende in Spain ; Lutin, Gobe-
lin, Follet, in France and Normandy ; Niss-god-
drange in Norway and Denmark ; Tomte, in
Sweden ; Niss in Jutland, Denmark and Fries-
land ; Bwbach or Pwcca in Wales ; in Ireland, Fir-
Darrig and, sometimes, Cluricaune; Kobold, in
Germany ; and in England, Brownie figured as
Boggart, Puck, Hobgoblin, and Robin Goodfellow.
Often the Stoechia, a wayward little black being,
went about the house under the shape of a lizard
or small snake. He was harmless ; his presence
was an omen of prosperity ; and great care was
taken that no disrespect was shown him.
The services of the Para, who was a well-mean-
8o "brownies and bogles."
ing rascal, were rather singular, and not at all in-
dispensable. He had a way of following the
neighbor's cows to pasture, and milking them him-
self, in a calf's fashion, until he had swallowed
quart on quart, and was as full as a little hogs-
head. Then he went home, uncorked his thiev-
ing throat, and obligingly emptied every drop of
his ill-gotten goods into his master's churn ! How
his feelings must have been hurt if anybody crit-
icized the cheese and butter !
The Spanish house-goblin was a statelier person,
and wore an enormous plumed hat, and threw
stones in a stolid and haughty manner at people
he disliked. But occasionally the Duende had
the form of a little busy friar, like the Mona-
chiello at Naples.
The Lutin, or Gobelin, or Follet of French be-
lief, was likewise a stone-thrower. He was fond
of children, and of horses ; taking it upon himself
to feed and caress his landlord's children when
they were good, and to whip them when they were
naughty ; and he rode the willing horses, and
combed them, and plaited their manes into knotty
OTHER HOUSE-HELPERS, 51
braids, for which, we may fear, the stable-boy never
thanked him. He knew, too, how to worry and
tease ; and certain French mothers threatened
troublesome little folk with the " Gobelin : " " Le
gobelin vous mangeraf" which we may translate
into : " The goblin will gobble you ! " or into the
v/himsical lines of an American poet :
The gobble uns'll git you,
The Norwegian Nis was like a strong-shoul-
dered child, in a coat and peaky cap, who carried
a pretty blue light at night. He enjoyed hopping
or skating across the farmyard under the moon's
ray. Dogs he would not allow in his house. If
he was first promised a gray sheep for his own, he
would teach any one to play the violin. Like
many another of the Brownie race, he was a
dandy, and loved nothing better than fine clothes.
Tomte of Sweden lived in a tree near the
house. He was as tall as a year-old boy, with a
82 "brownies and bogles."
knowing old face beneath his cap. In harvest-
time he tugged away at one straw, or one grain,
until he laid it in his master's barn; for his
strength was not much greater than an ant's. If
the farmer scorned his diligent little servant, and
made fun of his tiny load, all luck departed from
him, and the Tomte went away in anger. He
liked tobacco, played merry pranks, and doubled
up comically when he laughed. But he had an-
other laugh, scoffing and sarcastic, which he some-
times gave at the top of his voice.
Like the Devon Piskies, the Niss-Puk required
water left at his disposal over-night. The Nis of
Jutland was the Puk of Friesland. He also liked
his porridge with butter. He lived under the
roof, or in dark corners of the stable and house.
He was of the Tomte's size ; he wore red stock-
ings on his stumpy little legs, and a pointed red
cap, and a long gray or green coat. For soft,
easy slippers he had a great longing; and if a
pair were left out for him, he was soon heard
shuffling in them over the floor. He had long
arms, and a big head, and big bright eyes, so that
OTHER HOUSE-HELPERS. 83
the people of Silt have a saying concerning an in-
quisitive or astonished person ; " He stares like a
Puk." Puk, too, played sorry tricks on the serv-
ants, and was indignant if he was ever deprived
of his nightly bowl of groute.
The Bwbach of Wales churned the cream, and
begged for his portion, like a true Brownie ; he
was a hairy blackamoor with the best-natured grin
in the world. But he had an unpleasant habit of
whisking mortals into the air, and doing flighty
The unique Irish Cluricaune, who had that
name in Cork, was called Luricaune and Lepre-
chaun in other parts of the country. He differed
from the Shefro in living alone, and in his queer
appearance and habits. For though he was a
house-spirit and did house-work, his ambitions ran
in an opposite direction, and in his every spare
minute, when he was not smoking or drinking,
you might have seen him, a miniature old man,
with a cocked hat, and a leather apron, sitting on
a low stool, humming a fairy-tune, and perpetually
cobbling at a pair of shoes no bigger than acorns.
" BROWNIES AND BOGLES.'
The shoes were occasionally captured and shown.
And as we have seen, Mr. Cluricaune was a for-
tune-hunter, and a very wide-awake, versatile gob-
lin altogether. In his capacity of Brownie, he
once wreaked a
hard revenge on
a maid who
served him shab-
bily. A Mr. Har-
ris, a Quaker,
had on his farm
a C 1 u ricaune
W i 1 d b e a m .
servants left the
AN IRISH CLURICAUNE.
ning through negligence, Little Wildbeam wedged
himself into the cock, and stopped the flow,
at great inconvenience to his poor little body,
until some one came to turn the knob. So the
master bade the cook always put a good din-
ner down cellar for Little Wildbeam. One Friday
OTHER HOUSE-HELPERS. 85
she had nothing but part of a herring, and some
cold potatoes, whicli she left in place of the usual
feast. That very midnight the fat cook got pulled
out of bed, and thrown down the cellar-stairs, bump-
ing from side to side, so that it made her very sore
indeed , and meanwhile the smirking Cluricaune
stood at the head of the steps, and sang at the
luckless heap below :
Molly Jones, Molly Jones !
Potato-skin and herring-bones !
I'll knock your head against the stones,
Molly Jones !
In Japanese houses, even, Brownies were fa-
miliar comers and goers. They were important
and smooth-mannered pigmies, and serenely dealt
out rewards and punishments as they saw fit.
When they were engaged in befriending commend-
able boys and girls, their features had, somehow,
the ingenious likeness of letters signifying " good ; "
and if they made it their business to plague and
hinder naughty idlers, who, instead of doing their
errands promptly, stopped at the shops to buy
goodies, their queer little faces were screwed up
BROWNIES AND BOGLES.
to mean " bad," as you see in Japanese artists'
The English names for the affable Brownie-folk
bring to our minds the most wayward, frolicsome
elves of all fairydom. Boggart was the York-
JAPANESE CHILDREN AND BROWNIES.
shire sprite, and the Boggart commonly disliked
children, and stole their food and playthings ;
wherein he differed from his kindly kindred. Hob-
goblin (Hop-goblin) was so called because he
hopped on one leg. Hobgoblin is the same as
Rob or Bob-Goblin, a goblin whose full name
seemed to be Robert. Robin Hood, the famous
outlaw, dear to all of us, was thought to have
been christened after Robin Hood the fairy, be-
cause he, too, was tricksy and sportive, wore a
hood, and lived in the deep forest.
In Ireland lived the mocking, whimsical little
own twin. He
dressed in tight-
fitting red ; Fir-
meant " the red
man.'' He had
big h u m o r o u s
ears, and the
softest and most flexible voice in the world, which
could mimic any sound at will. He sat by the
fire, and smoked a pipe, big as himself, belong-
ing to the man of the house. He loved cleanli-
ness, brought good-luck to his abode, and, like a
cat, generally preferred places to people.
Puck and Robin Goodfellow were the names
88 "brownies and bogles."
best known and cherished. There is no doubt
that Shakespeare, from whom we have now our
prevailing idea of Puck, got the idea of him, in
his turn, from the popular superstitions of his day.
But Puck's very identity was all but forgotten, and
since Shakespeare was, therefore, his poetical
creator, we will forego mention of him here, and
entitle Robin Goodfellow, the same "shrewd and
meddling elf," under another nickname, the true
Brownie of England.
He was both House-Helper and Mischief-Maker,
" the most active and extraordinary fellow of a
fairy," says Ritson, " that we anywhere meet with."
He was said to have had a supplementary brother
called Robin Badfellow ; but there was no need
of that, because he was Robin Badfellow in him-
self, and united in his whimsical little character
so many opposite qualities, that he may be con-
sidered the representative elf the world over ; for
the old Saxon Hudkin, the Niss of Scandinavia,
and Knecht Ruprecht, the Robin of Germany,
are nothing but our masquerading goblin-friend on
continental soil. And in the red-capped smiling
OTHER HOUSE-HELPERS. 89
Mikumwess among the Passamaquoddy Indians,
there he is again !
By this name of Robin he was known earlier
than the thirteenth century, and " famosed in everie
olde wives' chronicle for his mad merrie prankes,"
two hundred years later. His biography was put
forth in a black-letter tract in 1628, and in a yet
better-known ballad which recited his jests, and
was in free circulation while Queen Bess was reign-
ing. The forgotten annalist says very heartily,
alluding to his string of aliases :
But call liim by what name you list ;
I have studied on my pillow,
And think the name he best deserves
Is Robin, the Good Fellow !
We class him rightly as a Brownie, because he
skimmed milk, knew all about domestic life, and
was the delight or terror of servants, as the case
might be. He was fond of making a noise and
clatter on the stairs, of playing harps, ringing bells,
and misleading passing travellers ; and despite
his knavery, he came to be much beloved by his
house-mates, Very like him was the German Hem-
go " BROWNIES AND BOGLES.
pelman, who laughed a great deal. But the laugh
of Master Robin sometimes foreboded trouble and
death to people, which Henipelman's never did.
The jolly German Kobold had a laugh which
filled his throat, and could be heard a mile away.
Bu he was a gnome malignant enough if he was
neglected or insulted. He very seldom made a
mine-sprite of himself, but stayed at home, Brown-
ie-like, and " ran " the house pretty much as he
saw fit. To the Dwarves he was, however, closely
related, and dressed after their fashion, except
that sometimes he wore a coat of as many colors
as the rainbow, with tinkling bells fastened to it.
He objected to any chopping or spinning done on
a Thursday. Change of servants, while he held
his throne in the kitchen, affected him not in the
least ; for the maid going away recommended her
successor to treat him civilly, at her peril. A very
remarkable Kobold was Hinzelmann, who called
himself a Christian, and came to the old castle of
Hiidemiihlen in 1584; whose history, too long to
add here, is given charmingly in Mr. Keightley's
OTHER HOUSE-HELPERS. 91
A certain bearded little Kobold lived with some
fishermen in a hut, and tried a trick which was
quite classic, and reminds one of the Greek story
of Procrustes, which all of you have met with, or
will meet with, some day. Says Mr. Benjamin
Thorpe : " His chief amusement, when the fisher-
men were lying asleep at night, was to lay them
even. For this purpose he would first draw them
up until their heads all lay in a straight line, but
then their legs would be out of the line ! and he
had to go to their feet and pull them up until the
tips of their toes were all in a row. This game he
would continue till broad daylight."
Now all Brownies, Nissen, Kobolds and the
rest, were very much of a piece, and when you
know the virtues and faults of one of them, you
know the habits of the race. So that you can un-
derstand, despite the slight but steady help given
in household matters, that a joerson so variable
and exacting and high-tempered as this curious
little sprite might happen sometimes to be a great
bore, and might inspire his master or mistress
with the sighing wish to be rid of him. It was a
92 " BROWNIES AND BOGLES.
tradition in Normandy that to shake off the Lutin
or Gobelin, it was merely necessary to scatter
flax-seed where he was wont to pass ; for he was
too neat to let it lie there, and yet tired so soon
of picking it up, that he left it in disgust, and
went away for good. And there was a sprite
named Flerus who lived in a farm-house near Os-
tend, and worked so hard, sweeping and drawing
water, and turning himself into a plough-horse
that he might replace the old horse who was sick,
for no reward, either, save a little fresh sugared
milk — that soon his master was the wealthiest
man in the neighborhood. But a giddy young
servant-maid once offended him, at the day's end,
by giving him garlic in his milk ; and as soon as
poor Flerus tasted it, he departed, very wrathful
and hurt, from the premises, forever.
There were few such successful instances on
record. Though Brownie was ready, in every
land under the sun, to leave home when he took
the fancy, or when he was puffed up with gifts of
lace and velvet, so that no mortal residence was
gorgeous enough for him, yet he would take no
hint, nor obey any command, when either pointed
to a banishment.
Near Kopenick once, a man thought of buying
a new house, and turning his back on a vexatious
THE PERSISTENT KOBOLD OF KOPENICK.
Kobold. The morning before he meant to change
quarters, he saw his Kobold sitting by a pool, and
asked him what he was doing. " I am doing my
washing! " said the sharp rogue, "because we
94 " BROWNIES AND BOGLES."
move to-morrow." And the man saw very well
that as he could not avoid him, he had better take
the little nuisance along. The same thing hap-
pened in the capital Polish anecdote of Iskrzycki
(make your respects to his excruciating name!)
and over Northern Europe the sarcastic joke "Yes,
we're flitting ! " prevails in folk-song and story.
There is many and many an example of families
selling the old house, and going off in great glee
with the furniture, thinking the elf-rascal cheated
and left behind ; and lo ! there he was, perched
on a rope, or peering from a hole in the cart itself,
on his congratulated master.
The funniest hap of all befell an ungrateful
farmer who fired his barn to burn the poor Ko-
bold in it. As he was driving off, he turned to
look at the blaze, and what should he see on the
seat behind him but the same excited Kobold,
chattering, monkey-like, and shrieking sympathiz-
ingly : " It was about time for us to get out of that,
wasn't it ? "
The dark-skinned little house-sprites came to
stay ; and as for being snubbed, they were quite
OTHER HOUSE-HELPERS. 95
above it. They were the sort of callers to whom
you could never show the door, with any dignity ;
for if you had done so, the grinning goblin would
have examined knob and panels with a squinted
sye, and gone back whistling to your easy-chair.
OF old, there were Oreads and Naiads to peo-
ple the rivers and the sea, but they were
not fairies; and in after-years the beautiful, bright
water-life of Greece, with its shells and dolphins,
its palaces, its subaqueous music, and its happy-
hearted maids and men, faded wholly out of mem-
ory. No one dominant race came to replace them.
Merpeople, Tritons and Sirens we meet now and
then, as did Hendrik Hudson's crew, and the
Moruachs of Ireland, the Morverch (sea-daughters)
of Brittainy ; but they, too, were grown, and half-
human. They were beautiful and swift, and usually
sat combing their long hair, with a mirror in one
hand, and their glossy tails tapering from the waist.
The Danish Mermaid was gold-haired, cunning
and treacherous ; the Havmand or Merman was
handsome, too, with black hair and beard, but kind
The Swedish pair ofifered presents to those on
shore, or passing in boats, in hopes to sink them
beneath the waves.
England and Ireland had no water-sprites which
answered to the Nix and the Kelpie, only the Mer-
row, who was a Mermaid. She was a fair woman,
with white, webbed fingers. She carried upon her
head a little diving-cap, and when she came up to
the rocks or the beach, she laid it by ; but if it
were stolen from her, she lost the power of return-
ing to the sea. So that if her cap were taken by a
young man, she very often could do nothing better
than to marry him, and spend her time hunting
for it up and down over his house. And once she
had found it, she forgot all else but her desire to
go home to " the kind sea-caves," and despite the
calling of her neighbors and husband and chil-
dren, she flitted to the shore, and plunged into the
first oncoming billow, and walked the earth no
Tales of these spirit-brides who suddenly de-
"brownies and bogles."
serted the green earth for their dear native waters,
are common in Arabian and European folk-lore.
And this characteristic was noted also in the Sea-
trows of the Shetland Islands, who divested them-
selves of a shining fish-skin, and could not find the
way to their ocean-beds if it were kept out of their
reach. It was the Danish sailor's belief that seals
laid by their skins every ninth night, and took
maiden's forms wherewith to sport and sleep on the
reefs. And for their capture as they were, warm.
living and human, one had only to snatch and hide
away their talisman-skin.
The strange German Water-man wore a green
hat, and when he opened his mouth, his teeth as
well were green ; he appeared to girls who passed
his lake, and measured out ribbon, and flung it to
But we must search for smaller sprites than
The little water-fairies who devoted themselves
to drawing under whomsoever encroached on their
pools and brooks, were called Nixies in Germany,
Kerrigans (for this was part of their office) in Brit-
tainy ; Ondins about Magdebourg, and Roussalkis,
the long-haired, smiling ones, among the Slavic
The engaging Nixies were very minute and mis-
chievous, and abounded in the Shetland Isles and
Cornwall, as did, moreover, the Kelpies, who were
like tiny horses, known even in China; sporting on
the margin, and foreboding death by drowning, to
any who beheld them; or tempting passers-by to
mount, and plunging, with their victims, headlong
BROWNIES AND BOGLES.
into the deep. The Nix-lady was recognized when
she came on shore by the edges of her dress or
apron being perpetually wet. The dark-eyed Nix-
man with his seaweed hair and his wide hat, was
known by his slit ears and feet, which he was very
THE UTTLE OLD NIX NEAR GHENT.
careful to conceal. Once in a while he was ob-
served to be half-fish. The naked Nixen were
draped with moss and kelp; but when they were
clothed, they seemed merely little men and women,
save that the borders of their garments, dripping
water, betrayed them. They did their marketing
ashore, wheresoever they were, and, according to
all accounts, with a sharp eye to economy.
Like the land-elves, they loved to dance and
sing. Nix did not favor divers, fishermen, and
ers on his terri-
tory, and he did
to harm them.
He was altogether
a fierce, grudging,
^ T*il^ « ^ THE WORK OF THE NICKEL.
covetous little crea-
ture. His comelier wife was much better-natured,
and befriended human beings to the utmost of
Near Ghent was a little old Nix who lived in the
Scheldt; he cried and sighed much, and did mis-
chief to no one. It grieved him when children ran
away from him, yet if they asked what troubled his
conscience, he only sighed heavily, and disappeared.
I02 "BROWNIES AND BOGLES.
The modern Greeks believed in a black sprite
haunting wells and springs, who was fond of beck-
oning to strangers. If they came to him, he be-
stowed gifts upon them ; if not, he never seemed
angry, but turned patiently to wait for the next
There was a curious sea-creature in Norway,
who swam about as a thin little old man with no
head. About the magical Isle of Riigen lived the
Nickel. His favorite game was to astonish the fish-
ers, by hauling their boats up among the trees.
At Aries and other towns near the Spanish bor-
der in France, were the Dracs, who inhabited clear
pools and streams, and floated along in the shape
of gold rings and cups, so that women and chil-
dren bathing should grasp them, and be lured
The Indian water-manittos, the Nibanaba, were
winning in appearance, and wicked in disposition.
They, joining the Pukwudjinies, helped to kill
In Wales were the Gwragedd Annwn, elves who
loved the stillness of lonely mountain-lakes, and
who seldom ventured into the upper world. They
had their own submerged towns and battlements ;
and from their little sunken city the fairy-bells sent
out, ever and anon, mufifled silver voices. The
Gwragedd Annwn were not fishy-finned, nor were
they ever dwellers in the sea; for in Wales were
no mermaid-traditions, nor any tales of those who
beguiled mortals —
Under the glassy, cool, translucent wave.
The Neck and the Stromkarl of Swedish rivers
were two little chaps with hardly a hair's breadth
of difference. Either appeared under various
shapes; now as a green-hatted old man with a long
beard, out of which he wrung water as he sat on the
cliffs ; now loitering of a summer night on the sur-
face, like a chip of wood or a leaf, he seemed a fair
child, harping, with yellow ringlets falling from be-
neath a high red cap to his shoulders. Both fair-
ies had a genius for music ; and the Stromkarl,
especially, had one most marvellous tune to which
he put eleven variations. Now, to ten of them any
one might dance decorously, and with safety ; but
I04 "brownies and bogles.
at the eleventh, which was the enchanted one, all
the world went mad ; and tables, belfries, benches,
houses, windmills, trees, horses, cripples, babies,
ghosts, and whole towns full of sedate citizens
began capering on the banks about the invisible
player, and kept it up in furious fashion until the
last note died away.
You know that the wren was hunted in certain
countries on a certain day. Well, here is one
legend about her. There was a malicious fairy
once in the Isle of Man, very winsome to look at,
who worked a sorry Kelpie-trick, on the young men
of the town, and inveigled them into the sea, where
they perished. At last the inhabitants rose in
vengeance, and suspecting her of causing their loss
and sorrow, gave her chase so hard and fast by
land, that to save herself, she changed her shape
into that of an innocent brown wren. And because
she had been so treacherous, a spell was cast upon
her, inasmuch as she was obliged every New Year's
Day to fly about as that same bird, until she should
be killed by a human hand. And from sunrise to
sunset, therefore, on the first bleak day of Janu-
WATER- FOLK. 105
ary, all the men and boys of the island fired at the
poor wrens, and stoned them, and entrapped them,
in the hope of reaching the one guilty fairy among
them. And as they could never be sure that they
had captured the right one, they kept on year by
year, chasing and persecuting the whole flock. But
every dead wren's feather they preserved carefully,
and believed that it hindered them from drown-
ing and shipwreck for that twelvemonth ; and they
took the feathers with them on voyages great and
small, in order that the bad fairy's magic may
never be able to prevail, as it had prevailed of yore
with their unhappy brothers.
The presence of the sea-fairies had a terror in
it, and against their arts only the strongest and
most watchful could hope to be victorious. Their
sport was to desolate peaceful homes, and bring
destruction on gallant ships. They, dwelling in
streams and in the ocean, the world over, were
like the waters they loved : gracious and noble in
aspect, and meaning danger and death to the
unwary. We fear that, like the earth-fairies, they
were heartless quite.
BROWNIES AND BOGLES.
But it may be that the gentle Nixies had only a
blind longing for human society, and would not
willingly have wrought harm to the creatures of
another element. We are more willing to urge
excuses for their wrong-doing than for the like
HOB IN HOBHOLE
fault in our frowzly under-ground folk ; for ugli-
ness seems, somehow, not so shocking when allied
with evil as does beauty, which was destined for
all men's delight and uplifting. As the air-elves
had their Fairyland whither mortal children wan-
dered, and whence they returned after an unmeas-
ured lapse of time, still children, to the ivy-grown
ruins of their homes, so the water-elves had a
reward for those they snatched from earth ; and
legends assure us the wave-rocked prisoners a hun-
dred fathoms down, never grew old, but kept the
flush of their last morning rosy ever on their
Among a little community full of guile, there is
great comfort in spotting one honest, kind water-
boy, who, not content with being harmless, as were
the Flemish and Grecian Nixies, put himself to
work to do good, and charm away some of the wor-
ries and ills that burdened the upper world. His
name was Hob, and he lived in Hobhole, which
was a cave scooped out by the beating tides in old
The lean pockets of the neighboring doctors
were partly attributed to this benignant little
person ; for he set up an opposition, and his
specialty was the cure of whooping-cough. Many
a Scotch mother took her lad or lass to the spray-
covered mouth of the wise goblin's cave, and sang
in a low voice :
io8 "brownies and bogles."
Hobhole Hob !
Ma bairn's gotten t' kink-cough:
Tak't off ! tak't off !
And so he did, sitting there with his toes in
the sea. For Hobhole Hob's small sake, we can
afford to part friends with the whole naughty race
THE fairy-fellows who made a regular busi-
ness of mischief-making seemed to have
two favorite ways of setting to work. They either
saddled themselves with little boys and spilled
them, sooner or later, into the water, or else they
danced along holding a twinkling light, and led
any one so foolish as to follow them a pretty march
into chasms and quagmires. Their jokes were
grim and hurtful, and not merely funny, like
Brownie's ; for Brownie usually gave his victims
(except in Molly Jones's case) nothing much
worse than a pinch. So people came to have
great awe and horror of the heartless goblins who
waylaid travellers, and left them broken-limbed or
Very often quarrelsome, disobedient or vicious
no "BROWNIES AND BOGLES.
folk fell into the snare of a Kelpie, or a Will-o'-the-
Wisp ; for the little whipper-snappers had a fine
eye for poetical justice, and dealt out punishments
with the nicest discrimination. We never hear
that they troubled good, steady mortals ; but only
that sometimes they beguiled them, for sheer love,
We know that all " ouphes and elves " could
change their shapes at will ; therefore when we
spy fairy-horses, fairy-lambs, and such quadrupeds,
we guess at once that they are only roguish small
gentlemen masquerading. Never for the innocent
fun of it, either ; but alas ! to bring silly persons
In Hampshire, in England, was a spirit known
as Coltpixy, which, itself shaped like a miniature
neighing horse, beguiled other horses into bogs
and morasses. The Irish Pooka or Phooka was
a horse too, and a famous rascal. He lived on
land, and was something like the Welsh Gwyll : a
tiny, black, wicked-faced wild colt, with chains
dangling about him. Again, he frisked around in
the shape of a goat or a bat. Spenser has him :
Ne let the Pouke, ne other evill spright, , . .
Ne let holjgoblins, names whose sense we see not,
Fray us with things that be not."
" Fray," as you are likely to guess, means to
frighten or to scare.
THE IRISH POOKA WAS A HORSE TOO.
Kelpies, who were Scotch, haunted fords and
ferries, especially in storms ; allured bystanders
into the water, or swelled the river so that it broke
the roads, and overwhelmed travellers.
Very like them were the Brag, the little Shoopil-
112 "BROWNIES AND BOGLES.
tree of the Shetland Islands, and the Nick, who
was the Icelandic Nykkur-horse ; gamesome de-
ceivers all, who enticed children and others to
bestride them, and who were treacherous as a
quicksand, every time. And there were many
more of the Kelpie kingdom, of whom we can
hunt up no clews.
A man who saw a Kelpie gave himself up for
lost ; for he was sure, by hook or crook, to meet
his death by drowning. Kelpie, familiar so far
away as China, never stayed in the next-door coun-
tries, Ireland or England, long enough to be rec-
ognized. They knew nothing of him by sight, nor
of the Nix his cousin, nor of anything resembling
them. In Ireland lived the merrow ; but she was
only an amiable mermaid.
The Japanese had a water-dragon called Kappa,
" whose office it was to swallow bad boys who went
to swim in disobedience to their parents' com-
mands, and at improper times and places." In
the River Tees was a green-haired lady named
Peg Powler, and in some streams in Lancashire
one christened Jenny Greenteeth ; two hungry
goblins whose only delight was to drown and de-
vour unlucky travellers. But we know already
that the water-sprites were more than likely so to
In Provence there is a tale told of seven little
boys who went out at night against their grand-
mother's wishes. A little dark pony came prancing
up to them, and the youngest clambered on his
sleek back, and after him, the whole seven, one
after the other, which was quite a wonderful weight
for the wee creature ; but his back meanwhile kept
growing longer and larger to accommodate them.
As they galloped along, the children called such
of their playmates as were out of doors, to join
them, the obliging nag stretching and stretching
until thirty pairs of young legs dangled at his
sides ! when he made straight for the sea, and
plunged in, and drowned them all.
The Piskies, or Pigseys, of Cornwall, were
naughty and unsociable. Their great trick was
to entice people into marshes, by making them-
selves look like a light held in a man's hand, or
a light in a friendly cottage window. Pisky also
ii6 "brownies and bogles."
rode the fanners' colts hard, and chased the farm-
ers' cows. For all his diabolics, you had to excuse
him in part, when you heard his hearty fearless
laugh ; it was so merry and sweet. " To laugh like
a Pisky," passed into a proverb. The Barguest
of Yorkshire, like the Osschaert of the Nether-
lands, was an open-air bugaboo whose presence
always portended disaster. Sometimes he ap-
peared as a horse or dog, merely to play the old
trick with a false light, and to vanish, laughing.
The Tuckebold was a very malicious chap, car-
rying a candle, who lived in Hanover ; his blood-
relation in .Scandinavia was the Lyktgubhe. Over
in Flanders and Brabant was one Kludde, a fellow
whisking here and there as a half-starved little
mare, or a cat, or a frog, or a bat ; but who was
always accompanied by two dancing blue flames,
and who could overtake any one as swiftly as a
snake. The Ellydan (dan is a Welsh word mean-
ing fire, and also a lure or a snare : a luring elf-
fire) was a rogue with wings, wide ears, a tall cap
and two huge torches, who precisely resembled
the English Will-o'-the-Wisp, the Scandinavian
Lyktgubhe and the Breton Sand Yan y Tad. Our
American negroes make him out Jack-muh-Lan-
tern : a vast, hairy, goggle-eyed, big-mouthed ogre,
leaping like a giant grasshopper, and forcing his
victims into a swamp, where they died. The gen-
tlemen of this tribe preferred to walk abroad at
night, like any other torchlight procession. Their
little bodies were invisible, and the traveller who
hurried towards the pleasant lamp ahead, never
knew that he was being tricked by a grinning fairy,
until he stumbled on the brink of a precipice, or
found himself knee-deep in a bog. Then the
brazen little guide shouted outright with glee, put
out his mysterious flame, and somersaulted off,
leaving the poor tourist to help himself. The only
way to escape his arts was to turn your coat
You may guess that the ungodly wights had
plenty of fun in them, by this anecdote : A great
many Scotch Jack-o'-Lanterns, as they are often
called, were once bothering the horse belonging
to a clergyman, who with his servant, was returning
home late at ni^ht. The horse reared and whin-
" BROWNIES AND BOGLES."
nied, and the clergyman was alarmed, for a thou-
sand impish fires were waltzing before the wheels.
Like a good man, he began to pray aloud, to no
avail. But the servant just roared : " Wull ye be
aff noo, in the deil's name ! " and sure enough, in
a wink, there was not a goblin within gunshot.
PISKY ALSO CHASED THE FARMERS' COWS.
There were some freakish fairies in old England,
whose names were Puckerel, Hob Rowland, By-
gorn, Bogleboe, Rawhead or Bloodybones ; the
last two were certainly scarers of nurseries.
The Boggart was a little spectre who haunted
farms and houses, like Brownie or Nis ; but he
was usually a sorry busybody, tearing the bed-cur-
tains, rattling the doors, whistling through the
keyholes, snatching his bread-and-butter from the
baby, playing pranks upon the servants, and doing
all manner of mischief.
The Dunnie, in Northumberland, was fond of
ers. When night
came, he gave
them and him-
self a rest, and
hung his long
legs over the
and banging his
idle heels. Red
Comb or Bloody
Cap was a ty-
rant who lived
RED COMB WAS A TVKANT.
in every Border castle, dungeon and tower. He
was short and thickset long-toothed and skinny-
fingered, with big red eyes, grisly flowing hair,
and iron boots; a pikestaff in his left hand, and
a red cap on his ugly head.
I20 "BROWNIES AND BOGLES.
The village of Hedley, near Ebchester, in Eng-
land, was haunted by a churlish imp known far
and wide as the Hedley Gow. He took the form
of a cow, and amused himself at milking-time with
kicking over the pails, scaring the maids, and call-
ing the cats, of whom he was fond, to lick up the
cream. Then he slipped the ropes and vanished,
with a great laugh. In Northern Germany we find
the Hedley Gow's next-of-kin, and there, too, were
little underground beings who accompanied maids
and men to the milking, and drank up what was
spilt ; but if nothing happened to be spilt in
measuring out the quarts, they got angry, over-
turned the pails, and ran away. These jacka-
napes were a foot and a half high, and dressed in
black, with red caps.
Many ominous fairies, such as the Banshee, por-
tended misfortune and death. The Banshee had
a high shrill voice, and long hair. Once in a
while she seemed to be as tall as an ordinary
woman, very thin, with head uncovered, and a
floating white cloak, wringing her hands and wail-
ing. She attached herself only to certain ancient
Irish families, and cried under their windows when
one of their race was sick, and doomed to die.
But she scorned families who had a dash of Saxon
and Norman ancestry, and would have nothing to
do with them.
Every single fairy that ever was known to the
annals of this world was, at times, a mischief-
maker. He could no more keep out of mischief
than a trout out of water. What lives the dandi-
prats led our poor great-great-great-great grand-
sires ! As a very clever living writer put it :
" A man could not ride out without risking an encounter
with a Puck or a Will-o'-the Wisp. He could not approach
a stream in safety unless he closed his ears to the sirens'
songs, and his eyes to the fair form of the mermaid. In the
hillside were the dwarfs, in the forest Queen Mab and her
court. Brownie ruled over him in his house, and Robin
Goodfellow in his walks and wanderings. From the moment
a Christian came into the world until his departure there-
from, he was at the mercy of the fairy-folk, and his devices
to elude them were many. Unhappy was the mother who
neglected to lay a pair of scissors or of tongs, a knife or her
husband's breeches, in the cradle of her new-born infant ;
for if she forgot, then was she sure to receive a changeling
in its place. Great was the loss of the child to whose bap-
tism the fairies were not invited, or the bride to whose wed-
122 "BROWNIES AND BOGLES.
ding the Nix, or water-spirit, was not bidden. If the inhabi-
tants of Thale did not throw a black cock annually into the
Bode, one of them was claimed as his lawful victim by the
Nickelmann dwelling in that stream. The Russian peasant
who failed to present the Rusalka or water-sprite he met at
Whitsuntide, with a handkerchief, or a piece torn from his
or her clothing, was doomed to death."
One had to be ever on the lookout to escape
the sharp little immortals, whose very kindness to
men and women was a species of coquetry, and
who never spared their friends' feelings at the ex-
pense of their own saucy delight.
PUCK ; AND rOETS' FAIRIES.
PUCK, as we said, is Shakespeare's fairy.
There is some probability that he found in
Cwm Pwca, or Puck Valley, a part of the roman-
tic glens of Clydach, in Breconshire, the original
scenes of his fanciful Midsummer Nighfs Dream.
This glen used to be crammed with goblins. There,
and in many like-named Welsh places. Puck's
pranks were well-remembered by old inhabitants.
This Welsh Puck was a queer little figure, long and
grotesque, and looked something like a chicken
half out of his shell ; at least, so a peasant drew
him, from memory, with a bit of coal. Pvvcca, or
Pooka, in Wales, was but another name for Elly-
dan ; and his favorite joke was also to travel along
before a wayfarer, with a lantern held over his
head, leading miles and miles, until he got to
124 "brownies and bogles.
the brink of a precipice. Then the little wretch
sprang over the chasm, shouted with wicked glee,
blew out his lantern, and left the startled traveller
to reach home as best he could. Old Reginald
Scott must have had this sort of a Puck in mind
when he put Kitt-with-the-Candlestick, whose iden-
tity troubled the critics much, in his catalogue of
The very old word Pouke meant the devil,
horns, tail, and all ; from that word, as it grew
more human and serviceable, came the Pixy of
Devonshire, the Irish Phooka, the Scottish Bogle,
and the Boggart in Yorkshire ; and even one nur-
sery-tale title of Bugaboo. Oddest of all, the
name Pug, which we give now to an amusing race
of small dogs, is an e very-day reminder of poor
lost Puck, and of the queer changes which, through
a century or two, may befall a word. Puck was con-
sidered court-jester, a mild, comic, playful creature :
A little random elf
Born in the sport of Nature, like a weed,
For simple sweet enjoyment of myself,
Hut for no other purpose, worth or need ;
And yet withal of a most happy breed.
PUCK; AND poets' FAIRIES. 1 25
But he kept to the last his character of practical
joker, and his alliance with his grim little cousins,
the I.yktgubhe and the Kludde, Glorious old
Michael Drayton made a verse of his naughty
tricks, which you shall hear :
This Puck seems but a dreaming dolt,
Still walking like a ragged colt,
And oft out of a bush doth bolt
On purpose to deceive us;
And leading us, makes us to stray
Long winter nights out of the way;
And when we stick in mire and clay,
He doth with laughter leave us.
Shakespeare, who calls him a "merry wanderer
of the night," and allows him to fly " swifter than
arrow from the Tartar's bow," was the first to
make Puck into a house spirit. The poets were
especially attentive to the offices of these house-
According to them, Mab and Puck do every-
thing in-doors which we think characteristic of a
Brownie. William Browne, born in Tavistock, in
the county of Devon, where the Pixies lived, pret-
tily puts it how the fairj'-queen did —
"brownies and bogles."
command her elves
To pinch those maids that had not swept their shelves;
And further, if by maiden's oversight,
Within doors water was not brought at night,
THE WELSH PUCK.
Or if they spread no table, set no bread.
They should have nips from toe unto the head !
And for the maid who had performed each thing
She in the water-pail bade leave a ring.
Herrick confirms what we have just heard
PUCK; AND POETS FAIRIES.
If ye will with Mab find grace,
Set each platter in its place ;
Rake the fire up, and get
Water in ere the sun be set ;
Wash your pails, and cleanse your dairies;
Sluts are loathsome to the fairies!
Sweep your house : who doth not so,
Mab will pinch her by the toe.
John Lyly, in his very beautiful May lie's Meta-
morphosis has this charming fairy song, which
takes us out to tlie grass, and the soft night air,
and the softer starshine :
Hy the moon we
sport and play ;
With the night be-
gins our day ;
As we dance, the
dew doth fall.
Trip it, little urchins
Lightly as the little
Two by two, and
three by three,
And about go we,
and about go we.
A MERRY NlGHT-WANUEKIiK.
What a picture of the wee tribe at their revels!
Here is another, from Ben Jonson's Sad Slieplieni :
128 "brownies and bogles."
Span-long elves that dance about a pool,
With each a little changeling in her arms.
In what is thought to be Lyly's play, just men-
tioned, Mopso, Joculo, and Prisio have something
in the way of a pun for each fairy they address :
Mop. : I pray you, what might I call you }
\st Fairy : My name is Penny.
Mop. : I am sorry I cannot purse you !
Pris. : I pray you, sir, what might I call you.'
zd Fairy : My name is Cricket.
(Mr. Keightley says that the Crickets were a
family of great note in Fairyland : many poets
Pris. : I would I were a chimney for your sake !
Joe. : I pray you, you pretty little fellow, what's youi
yi Fairy : My name is Little Little Prick.
/oc: Little Little Prick! O you are a dangerous fairy,
and fright all the little wenches in the country out of their
beds. I care not whose hand I were in, so I were out of
Drayton, again, gives us a list of tinkling elfin-
ladies' names, which are pleasant to hear as the
drip of an icicle :
PUCK; AND poets' fairies.
Hop and Mop and Drop so clear,
Pip and Trip and Skip that were
To Mab their sovereign ever dear,
Her special maidsof-honor :
Pib and Tib and Pinck and Pin,
Tick and Quick, and Jil and Jin,
Tit and Nit, and Wap and Win,
The train that wait upon her !
"BY THE MOON WE SPORT AND PLAY."
Young Randolph has an equally delightful ac-
count in the pastoral drama of Amymtas, of his wee
folk orchard- robbing ; whose chorused Latin Leigh
Hunt thus translates, roguishly enough :
130 " BROWNIES AND BOGLES.*'
We the fairies blithe and antic,
Of dimensions not gigantic,
Tho' the moonshine mostly keep us.
Oft in orchard frisk and peep us.
Stolen sweets are always sweeter;
Stolen kisses much completer ;
Stolen looks are nice in chapels ;
Stolen, stolen, be our apples I
When to bed the world is bobbing,
Then's the time for orchard-robbing :
Yet the fruit were scarce worth peeling.
Were it not for stealing, stealing !
You will notice that Shakespeare places his
Gothic goblins in the woods about Athens, a place
where real fairies never set their rose- leaf feet,
but where once sported yet lovelier Dryads and
Naiads. These dainty British Greeks are very
small indeed : Titania orders them to make war
on the rear-mice, and make coats of their leathern
wings. Mercutio's Queen Mab is scarce bigger
than a snowflake. Prospero, in The Tempest, com-
mands, besides his " delicate Ariel," all
— elves of hills, brooks, standing lakes, and groves.
PUCK; AND POETS FAIRIES. I3I
The make-believe fairies in The Merry Wives
know how to pinch offenders black and blue. The
shepherd, in the Winter's Tale, takes the baby
Perdita for a changeling. So that all the Shakes-
peare people seem wise in goblin-lore.
You see that we have looked for the literature
of our pretty friends only among the old poets, and
only English poets at that; but the foreign fairies
are no less charming. Chaucer and Spenser loved
the brood especially. Robert Herrick knew all
— the elves also,
Whose little eyes glow ;
Sidney smiled on them once or twice, and great
Milton could spare them a line out of his majestic
verse. But the high-tide of their praise was ebb-
ing already when Dryden and Pope were writing.
Lesser poets than any of these, Parnell and Tickell,
wrote fairy tales, but they lack the relish of the
honeyed rhymes Drayton, Lyly, and supreme
Shakespeare, give us. Keats was drawn to them,
though he has left us but sweet and brief proof of
it ; and Thomas Hood, of all gentle modern poets.
ERUVVNlES AND BOGLES.
has done most for the " small foresters and gay."
In prose the fairies are " famoused " east and west ;
for which they may sing their loudest canticle to
the good Brothers Grimm, in Fairyland. The
arts have been their handmaids ; and some of this
THE ELVES WHOSE LITTLE EYES GLOW.
world's most lovable spirits have delighted to do
them merry honor: Mendelssohn in his quicksil-
ver orchestral music, and dear Richard Doyle in
the quaintest drawings that ever fell, laughing,
from a pencil-point.
KIDNAPPING was a favorite pastime with
our small friends, and a great many rea-
sons concurred to make it a necessary and thriv-
ing trade. We are told that both the Tylwyth
Teg and the Kerrigans had a fear that their frail
race was dying out, and sought to steal hearty
young children, and leave the wee, bright, sickly
"changeling," or ex-changeling, in its place.
That sounds like a quibble ; for we know that fai-
ries were free from the shadow of death, and
could not possibly dread any lessening of their
numbers from the old, old cause. Yet we
saw that the air-elves held pitched battles, and
murdered one another like gallant soldiers, from
the world's beginning ; and again comes a strag-
gling little proof to make us suspect that they had
134 "brownies and bogles.
not quite the immortality they boasted. However,
we pass it by, sure at least that the philosopher
who first observed the merry goblins to be at bot-
tom wavering and disconsolate, recognized an in-
stance of it in this pathetic eagerness to adopt
babies not their own. Fairy-folk were believed,
in general, to have power over none but unbap-
A tradition older and wider than the Tylwj'th
Teg's runs .that a yearly tribute was due from
Fairyland to the prince of the infernal regions, as
poor King ^Egeus had once to pay Minos of Crete
with the seven fair boys and girls ; and that, for
the sake of sparing their own dear ones, the little
beings, in their fantastic dress, flew east and west
on an anxious hunt for human children, who might
be captured and delivered over to bondage
instead. And they crept cautiously to many a
cradle, and having secured the sleeping innocent,
"plucked the nodding nurse by the nose," as
Ben Jonson said, and vanished with a scream of
triumphant laughter. Welsh fairies have been
caught in the very act of the theft, and a pretty
fight they made, every time, to keep their booty ;
but the strength of a man or a woman, was, of
course, too much for them to resist long.
Now, whenever a mother, who, you may count
upon it, thought her own urchin most beautiful of
all under the moon, found him growing cross and
homely, in despite of herself, she suddenly awoke
to this view of the case : that the dwindled babe
was her babe no longer, but a miserable young
gosling from Fairyland slipped into its place. A
miserable young foreign gosling it was from that
hour, though it had her own grandfather's special
kiixl of a nose on its unmistakable face.
The discovery always made a great sensation ;
people came from the surrounding villages to
wonder at the lean, gaping, knowing-eyed small
stranger in the crib, and to propose all sorts of
charms which should rid the house of his presence,
and restore the rightful heir again. They were
not especially polite to the poor changeling. In
Denmark, and in Ireland as well, they dandled
him on a hot shovel ! If he were really a change-
ling, the fairies, rather than see him singed, were
136 "brownies and bogles."
sure to appear in a violent fluster and whisk him
away, and at the same minute to drop its former
owner plump into the cradle. And if it were
not a changeling, how did those queer by-gone
mammas know when to stop the broiling and
Mr. George Waldron, who in 1726 wrote an en-
tertaining Description of the Isle of Man, recorded
it that he once went to see a baby supposed to be
a changeling ;■ that it seemed to be four or five
years old, but smaller than an infant of six months,
pale, and silky-haired, and (what was unusual)
with the fairest face under heaven ; that it was
not able to walk nor to move a joint, seldom smiled,
ate scarcely anything, and never spoke nor cried ;
but that if you called it a fairy-elf, it fixed its gaze
on you as if it would look you through. If it were
left alone, it was overheard laughing and frolick-
ing, and when it was taken up after, limp as cloth,
its hair was found prettily combed, and there were
signs that it had been washed and dressed by its
The main point to put the family mind at rest
on the matter, was to make the changeling " own
up," force him to do something which no tender
mortal in socks and bibs ever was able to do, such
as dance, prophesy, or manage a musical instru-
ment. There was an Irish changeling, the young-
est of five sons,
who, being teased,
snatched a bagpipe
from a visitor, and
played upon it in the
and melting manner,
sitting up in his
wooden chair, his
big goggle-eyes fixed
on the company.
And when he knew
THERE WAS AN IRISH CHANGE-
he was found out, he sprang, bagpipe and all, into
the river ; which leads one to suspect that he was
a sort of stray Stromkarl.
The Welsh fairies had good taste, and admired
wholesome and handsome children. They stole
such often, and left for substitute the plentyn-
138 "brownies and bogles."
newid (the change-child) who at first was exactly
like the absent nursling, but soon grew ugly, shriv-
elled, biting, wailing, cunning and ill-tempered.
In the hope of proving whether it were a fairy-
waif or not, people put the little creature to such
hard tests, that sometimes it nearly died of acquaint-
ance with a rod, or an oven, or a well.
If the bereaved parent did some very astonish-
ing thing in plain view of the wonder-chick, that
would generally entrap it into betraying its secrets.
A French changeling was once moved unawares
to sing out that it was nine hundred years old, at
least! In Wales, and also in Brittainy (which are
sister-countries of one race) the following story is
current : A mother whose infant had been spirited
away, and who was much perplexed over what she
took to be a changeling, was advised to cook a
meal for ten farm-servants in one egg-shell. When
the queer little creature, burning with curiosity,
asked her from his high-chair what she was about,
she could hardly answer, so excited was she to
hear him speak. At that he cried louder : " A
meal for ten, dear mother, in one egg-shell ? The
"THE ACORN BEFORE THE OAK HAVE I SEEN."
acorn before the oak have I seen, and the wilder-
ness before the lawn, but never did I behold any-
thing like that ! " and so gave damaging evidence
of his age and his unlucky wisdom. And the
woman replied : " You have seen altogether too
much, my son, and you shall have a beating ! "
And thereupon she began to thrash him, until he
screeched, and a fairy appeared hurriedly to rescue
him, and in the crib lay the round, rosy, real child,
who had been missing a long while.
Now the " gentry " of modern Greece had an
eye also to clever children ; but they almost
always brought them back, laden with gifts, lovelier
in person than when they were taken from home.
And if they appointed a changeling in the mean-
time (which they were not very apt to do) it never
showed its elfin nature until it was quite grown up !
unlike the uncanny goblins who were all too
ready from the first to give autobiographies on the
The Drows of the Orkney Islands fancied larger
game. They used to stalk in among church con-
gregations and carry off pious deacons and deacon-
142 "brownies and bogles."
esses ! So wrote one Lucas Jacobson Debes, in
In a pretty Scotch tale, a sly fairy threatened to
steal the " lad bairn," unless the mother could tell
the fairy's right name. The latter was a complete
stranger, and the woman was sore worried ; and
went to walk in the woods to ease her anxious and
aching heart, and to think over some means of
outwitting the enemy of her boy. And presently
she heard a faint voice singing under a leaf :
Little kens the glide dame at hame
That Whuppity Stoorie is ma name !
When the smart lady in green came to take the
beautiful " lad bairn," the mother quietly called
her " Whuppity Stoorie ! " and off she hurried with
a cry of fear ; like the Austrian dwarf Kruzi-
miigeli, the " dear Ekke Nekkepem " of Friesland,
and many another who tried to play the same
trick, and who were always themselves the means
of telling mortals the very names they would con-
Fairy-folk young and old were coquettish enough
about their names, and greatly preferred they
should not be spoken outright. This habit got
them into many a scrape. The anecdote of " Who
hurt you ? Myself ! " was told in Spain, Finland,
SHE HEARD A FAINT VOICE SINGING UNDER A LEAF.
Brittainy, Japan, and a dozen other kingdoms, and
seems to be as old as the Odyssey. Do you re-
member where Ulysses tells the Cyclop that his
name is Outis, which means Nobody ? and how,
after the eye of the wicked Polyphemus has been
BROWNIES AND BOGLES.
put out, the comrades of the big blinded fellow ask
him who did the deed, and he growls back, very
sensibly : " Nobody ! " Consider what follows a
typical modern version of the same trick.
A young Scotch child, whom we will call Alan,
sits by the fire, when a pretty creature the size oE
a doll, waltzes down the chimney to the hearth,
and begins to frolic. When asked its name it says
shrewdly : " Ainsel " ; which to the boy sounds
like what it really is, " Ownself," and makes him.
when it is his turn to be questioned, as saucy and
reticent as he supposes his elfin playfellow to be.
So Alan tells the sprite that his name is " J/y
Ainsel," and gets the better of it. For bye-and-
bye they wax very frisky and friendly, and right
in the middle of their sport, when little Alan
pokes the fire, and gets a spark by chance on
Ainsel's foot, and when he roars with pain, and
the old fairy-mother appears instantly, crying an-
grily : " Who has hurt thee ? Who has hurt thee ? "
the elf blurts, of course, " My Ainsel ! " and she
kicks him unceremoniously up chimney, and bids
him stop whimpering, since the burn was of his
own silly doing! Alan, meanwhile, climbs up-
stairs to bed, rejoicing to escape the vengeance of
the fairy-mother, and chuckling in his sleeve at
the funny turn things have taken.
" And never would I tire, Janet,
In Fairyland to dwell."
SO runs the song. Who would weary of so
sweet a place ? At least, we think of it as
a sweet place ; but like this own world of ours, it
was whatever a man's eyes made it ; good and
gracious to the good, troublous to the evil. Ac-
cording to an old belief, a mean or angry, or un-
truthful person, always exposed himself, by the
very violence of his wrong-doing, to become an
inmate of Fairyland ; and for such a one, it could
not have been all sunshine. A foot set upon the
fairy-ring was enough to cause a mortal to be
whisked off, pounded, pinched, bewildered, and
left far from home. It was a strange experience,
and it is recorded that it befell many a lad and
maid to be loosed from earth, and cloistered for
uncounted years, to return, like our Catskill hero,
Rip Van Winkle, after what he supposes to be a
little time, and to find that generations had f>assed
away. For those absent took no thought of time's
passing, and on reaching earth again, would begin
where their lips had dropped a sentence half-
spoken, a hundred years before. Tales of such
truants are common the world over.
Gitto Bach (little Griffith) was a Welsh farmer's
boy, who looked after sheep on the mountain-top.
When he came home at evenfall he often showed
his brothers and sisters bits of paper stamped like
money. Now when it was given to him, it was
real money; but the fairy-gifts would not bear
handling, and turned useless and limp as soon as
Gitto showed them. One day he did not return.
After two years his mother found him one morning
at the door, smiling, and with a bundle under his
arm. She asked him, with many tears, where he
had been so long, while they had mourned for him
as dead. "It is only yesterday I went away!"
said Gitto. " See the pretty clothes the mountain-
BROWNIES AND BOGLES.
children gave me, for dancing with them to the
music of their harps." And he opened his bundle,
and showed a beautiful dress : but his mother saw
it was only paper, after all, like the fairy money.
GITTO BACH AND THE FAIRIES.
Our pretty friends enjoyed beguiling mortals into
their shining underworld, with song, and caresses,
and winning promises. Once the mortal entered,
he met with warm welcomes from all, and the most
exquisite meat and drink were set before him.
Now, if he had but the courage to refuse it, he
soon found himself back on earth, whence he was
stolen. But if he yielded to temptation, and his
tongue tasted fairy food, he could never behold
his native hills again for years and years. And
when, after that exquisite imprisonment, he should
be torn from his delights and set back at his father's
KAGUYAHIME, THE MOON-MAID.
door, he should find his memory almost forgotten,
and others sitting with a claim in his empty seat.
And he should not remember how long he had
been missing, but grow silent and depressed, and
sit for hours, with dreamy eyes, on lonely slopes
and wildwood bridges, not desiring' fellowship of
any soul alive ; but with a heartache always for his
150 "brownies and bogles.
little lost playfellows, and for that bright country
far away, until he died.
Often the creature who has once stood in the
courts of Fairyland, is placed under vow, when
released, and allowed to visit the earth, to come
back at call, and abide there always. For the
spell of that place is so strong, no heart can es-
cape it, nor wish to escape it. Thus ends the old
romance of Thomas the Rhymer: that, at the end
of seven years, he was freed from Fairyland, made
wise beyond all men ; but he was sworn to return
whenever the summons should reach him. And
once as he was making merry with his chosen com-
rades, a hart and a hind moved slowly along the
village street ; and he knew the sign, laid down
his glass, and smiled farewell ; and followed them
straightway into the strange wood, never to be
seen more by mortal eyes.
A wonderful and beautiful Japanese story, too,
the ancient Taketori Monogatari, written in the
first half of the tenth century, tells us how a grey-
haired bamboo-gatherer found in a bamboo-blade
a radiant elf-baby, and kindly took it home to his
wife ; and because of their great and ready gener-
osity to the waif, the gods made them thrive in
purse and health ; and how, when the little one
had been with them three months, Kaguyahime,
for that was she, grew suddenly to a tall and fair
girl, and so remained unchanging, for twenty
years, while five gallant Japanese lords were doing
her strange commands, and running risks the world
over. Then, though the emperor, also, was her
suitor, and though she was unspeakably fond of
her old foster-parents, and grieved to go from
them, she, being a moon-maid, went back in her
chariot one glorious night to her shining home,
whence she had been banished for some old fault,
and whither the love and longing and homage of
all the land pursued her.
Many sweet wild Welsh and Cornish legends
deal with shepherds and yeomen who set foot on
a fairy mound by chance, or who, in some other
fashion, were transplanted to the realm of the
dancing, feasting elves. But they have a pathetic
ending, since no wanderer ever strayed back with
all his old wits sound and sharp. He seemed as
"brownies and bogles,"
one who walked in sleep, and had no care or rec-
ognition for the faces that once he held dear.
And if he were roused too rudely from his long
reverie, he died of the shock.
A merrier tale, and one which is very wise and
pretty as well, is current in many literatures. The
THE LITTLE HUNCHBACK.
Irish version runs somewhat in this fashion, and
the Spanish and Breton versions are extraordina-
rily like it. A little hunchback resting at night-
fall in an enchanted neighborhood, heard the
fairies, from their borderlands near by, singing
over and over the names of the days of the week.
"And Sunday, and Monday, and Tuesday!" they
chorus : " and Sunday and Monday and Tuesday."
FAIRYLAND. 1 53
The boy thinks it rather hard that they do not
know enough to finish their musical chant with the
names of the remaining days ; so, when they pause
a little, very softly, and tunefully, he adds: "And
Wednesday " ! The wee folk are delighted, and
make their chant longer by one strophe ; and they
crowd out in their finery from the mound, bearing
the stranger far down into its depths where there
are the glorious open halls of Fairyland : kissing
and praising their friend, and bringing him 'the
daintiest fruit lips ever tasted ; and to reward him
lastingly, their soft little hands lift the cruel hump
from his back, and he runs dancing home, at a
year's end, to acquaint the village with his happy
fortune. Now another deformed lad, his neigh-
bor, is racked with jealousy at the sight of his
former friend made straight and fair ; and he
rushes to the fairy-mound, and sits, scowling, wait-
ing to hear them begin the magic song. Presently
rise the silver voices : " And Sunday, and Monday,
and Tuesday, and Wednesday, and Sunday and
Monday and Tuesday and Wednesday " : whereat
the audience breaks in rudely, right in the middle
154 "brownies and bogles.
of a cadence : "■ And Friday." Then the gentle
elves were wrathful, and swarmed out upon him,
snarling and striking at him in scorn ; and before
he escaped them, they had fastened on his crooked
back beside his own, the very hump that had be-
longed to the first comer ! In the anecdote, as it
is given in Picardy, the justice-dealing goblins
are described as very small and comely, clad in
violet-colored velvet, and wearing hats laden with
peacock plumes. In the Japanese rendering, a
wen takes the place of the hump.
Fairyland is the home of every goblin, bright
or fierce, that ever we heard of; the home, too, of
the ogres and dragons, and enchanted princesses,
and demons, and Jack-the-giant-killers of all time.
The Brownies belonged there, and went thither in
their worldly finery, when service was over ; the
gnomes and snarling mine-sprites, the sweet danc-
ing elves, the fairies who stole children, or romped
under the river's current, or plagued honest farm-
ers, or tiptoed it with a torch down a lonesome
road — every one there had his country and his
FAIRYLAND. 1 55
In that merry company were many who have
escaped us, and who sit in a blossomy corner by
themselves, the oddest of the odd : like the Jap-
anese Tengus, who have little wings and feathers,
like birds, until they grew up ; mouths very sel-
dom opened, and most amazing big noses, with
which, on earth, they were wont to fence, to white-
wash, to write poetry, and to ring bells ! There,
too, were the dark-skinned Indian wonder-babies:
Weeng, whom Mr. Longfellow celebrates as Ne-
pahwin, the Indian god of sleep, with his numer-
ous train of little fairy men armed with clubs ;
who at nightfall sought out mortals, and with in-
numerable light blows upon their foreheads, com-
pelled them to slumber. The great boaster, lagoo,
whom Hiawatha knew, once declared that he had
seen King Weeng himself, resting against a tree,
with many waving and music-making wings on his
back. Indian, likewise, was the spirit named Ca-
notidan, who dwelt in many a hollow tree ; and
the lively fellow, Taknakanx Kan, who sported "in
the nodding flowers ; who flew with the birds, frisked
with the squirrels, and skipped jvith the grasshop-
BROWNIES AND BOGLES.
per ; who was merry with the gay running brooks,
and shouted with the waterfall; who moved with
the sailing cloud, and came forth with the dawn."
He never slept, and never had time to sleep, being
the god of perpetual motion. Near him, perhaps,
see-sawed a couple of long-eyed Chinese San Sao,
or the glossy-haired Fees of Southern France
pelted one another with dew-drops. There also,
the African Yumboes had their magnificent tents
spread : those strange little thieving Banshee-
Brownies, wrapped in white cotton pangs, who
leaned back in their seats after a gorgeous repast,
and beheld an army of hands appear and carry off
the golden dishes ! There abided, as the vene-
rated elder of the rest, the long-bearded Pygmies
whom Homer, Aristotle and good Herodotus had
not scorned to celebrate, whom Sir John Mande-
ville avowed to be " right fair and gentle, after their
quantities, both the men artd the women. . . .
And he that liveth eight year, men hold him right
passing old . . . and of the men of our stature
have they as great scorn and wonder as we would
have among us of giants ! "
Of these and thousands more marvellous is
Fairyland full ; full of things startling and splen-
did and grewsome and visionary :
full of noises,
Sounds and sweet airs that give delight, and hurt not.
Any picture of it is tame, any worded description
dull and heavy, to you who discover it daily at first
hand, and who know its faces and voices, which
fade too quickly from the brain. All fine advent-
15S "brownies and bogles."
ures spring thence : all loveliest color, odor and
companionship are in that stirring, sparkling world.
Can you not help us back there for an hour? Who
knows the path ? Who can draw a map, and set up
a sign-post ? Who can bar the gate, when we are
safe inside, and keep us forever and ever in our for-
saken " dear sweet land of Once-upon-a-Time " ?
THE PASSING OF THE LITTLE PEOPLE.
THERE was once a very childish child who laid
her fairy-book on its face across her knee,
and sat all the morning watching the cups of the
honeysuckle, grieved that not one solitary elf was
left to swing on its sun-touched edges, and laugh
back at her, with unforgetful eyes.
We are sorry for her, and sorry with her. The
Little People, "alas ! have gone away; would that
they might return ! No man knows why nor when
they left us ; nor whither they turned their faces.
The exodus was made softly and slowly, till the
whole bright tribe had stolen imperceptibly into
exile. Mills, steam-engines and prowling disbe-
lievers joined to banish them; their poetic and
dreamy drama is over, their magic lamp out, and
their jocund music hushed and forbidden. Or
l6o " BROWNIES AND BOGLES."
perhaps they of themselves went lingeringly and
sorrowfully afar, because the world had grown too
rough for them.
Geoffrey Chaucer, in the fourteenth century,
wrote in his sweet, tranquil fashion :
In olde dayes of the Kyng Arthour . . .
Al was this lond fulfilled of faerie
I speke of mony hundrid yeer ago ;
But now can no man see non elves mo :
which you may understand as an announcement
somewhat ahead of time. For many, many "elves
mo " were on record after the good poet's lyre was
hushed, and " thick as motes in the sunbeam " cen-
turies after their reported flight. There have been
sound-headed folk in every age, of whom Chaucer
was one, who jested over the poor fairies and their
arts, and spoke of them only for gentle satire's sake.
But though Chaucer was sure the goblins had per-
ished, his neighbors saw manifold lively specimens
of the race, without stirring out of the parish. Up
to two hundred years ago prajers were said in the
churches against bad fairies !
Sir Walter Scott related that the last Brownie
THE PASStNti OF TME LITTLE PEOPLE. l6l
was the Brownie of Bodsbeck, who lived there long,
and vanished, as is the wont of his clan, when
the mistress of the house laid milk and a piece of
money in his haunts. He was loath to go, and
moaned all night : " Farewell to Bonnie Bods-
"al was this lond fulfilled of faerie."
beck ! " till his departure at break of daj'. A girl
from Norfolk, England, questioned by Mr. Thomas
Keightley, admitted that she had often seen the
Prairies, dressed in white, coming up from their
little cities underground ! Mr. John Brand saw a
man who said he had seen one that had seen fair-
i62 "brownies and bogles."
ies ! And Mr. Robert Hunt, author of the Drolls
and Traditions of Old Cor/nvall, wrote that forty
years ago every rock and field in that country was
peopled with them ! and that " a gentleman well-
known in the literary world of London very re-
cently saw in Devonshire a troop of fairies ! It
was a breezy summer afternoon, and these beau-
tiful little creatures were floating on circling
zephyrs up the side of a sunlit hill, fantastically
'Where oxlips and the nodding violet grow.'
So here are three trustworthy gentlemen, makers
of books on this special subject, and none of them
very long dead, to offset Master Geoffrey Chaucer,
and to bring the " loud fulfilled of faerie " closer
than he dreamed. About the year 1865, a corre-
spondent told Mr. Hunt the following queer little
" I heard last week of three fairies having been
seen in Zennor very recently. A man who lived
at the foot of Trendreen Hill in the valley of Tre-
ridge, I think, was cutting furze on the hill. Near
THE PASSING OF THE LITTLE PEOPLE.
the middle of the day he saw one of the small peo-
ple, not more than a foot long, stretched at full
length and fast asleep, on a bank of heath, sur-
rounded by high brakes of furze. The man took
off his furze-cuff and slipped the little man into it
without his waking up, went down to the house, and
took the little fellow out of the cuff on the hearth-
stone, when he awoke, and seemed quite pleased
and at home, beginning to play with the c^iil-
dren, who were well pleased also with the small
body, and called him Bobby Griglans. The old
people were very careful not to let Bob out of the
164 "brownies and 150GLES.''
house, nor be seen by the neighbors, as he had
promised to show the man where crocks of gold
were buried on the hill. A few days after he was
brought, all the neighbors camfe with their horses,
according to custom, to bring home the winter's
reek of furze, which had to be brought down the
hill in trusses on the backs of the horses. That Bob
might be safe and out of sight, he and the children
were shut up io the barn. Whilst the furze-carriers
were in to dinner, the prisoners contrived to get
out to have a run round the furze-reek, when they
saw a little man and woman not much larger than
Bob, searching into every hole and corner among
the trusses that were dropped round the unfin-
ished reek. The little woman was wringing her
hands and crying ' O my dear and tender Skilly-
widden! wherever canst thou be gone to? Shall
I ever cast eyes on thee again ? ' * Go 'e back ! '
says Bob to the children ; * my father and mother
are come here too.' He then cried out : ' Here I
am, mammy ! ' By the time the words were out of
his mouth, the little man and woman, with their
precious Skillywidden, were nowhere to be seen,
THE PASSING OF THE LITTLE PEOPLE.
THE CAPTURE OF SKILLYWIDDEN.
and there has been no sight nor sign of them
since. The children got a sound thrashing for
Such is the lat-
est evidence we
can find of the
We may, how-
contemporaries, since among the peasantry of many
countries over-seas, the belief is not yet extinct.
But it is pretty clear to us, modern and American
as we are (safer in so thinking than anybody was
anywhere before ! ) that the "restless people," as
the Scotch called them, are at rest, and clean quit
of this world; and perhaps satisfied, at last, of their
chance of salvation, alopg with fortunate Chris-
Such a great system as this of fairy-lore, propped
on such show of earnestness, grew up, not of a
i66 "brownies and bogles."
sudden like a mushroom after a July rain, but
gradually and securely, like a coral-reef. And the
dream-building was not nonsense at all, but a way
of putting what was evident and marvellous into a
familiar guise. If certain strange things, which
are called phenomena, happened — things like the
coming of pebbles from clouds, music from sand,
sparkling light from decay, or disease and death
from the mere handling of a velvety leaf — then our
forefathers, instead of gazing straight into the eyes
of the fact, as we are taught to do, looked askance,
and made a fantastic rigmarole concerning the
pebbles, or the music, and passed it down as re-
ligion and law.
The simple-minded citizens of old referred any
trifling occurrence, pleasant or unpleasant, to the
fairies. The demons and deities, according to
their notion of fitness, governed in vaster matters ;
and the new, potent sprites took shape in the
popular brain as the controllers of petty affairs.
If a shepherd found one of his flock sick, it had
been elf-shot; if a girl's wits went wool-gathering,
it was a sign she had been in fairyland ; if a coo-
THE PASSING OF THE LITTLE PEOPLE. 167
ing baby turned peevish and thin, it was a change-
ling ! Wherever you now see a mist, a cobweb, a
moving shadow on the grass ; wherever you hear
a cricket-chirp, or the plash of a waterfall, or the
cry of the bird on the wing, there of yore were the
fairy-folk in their beauty. They stood in the mind
to represent the lesser secrets of Nature, to ac-
count for some wonder heard and seen. It was
many a century before nations stopped romancing
about the brave things on land and sea, and began
to speculate, to observe more keenly, to hunt out
reasons, and to lift the haze of their own fancy
from heroic facts and deeds.
Think a moment of the Danish moon-man, who
breathed pestilence, and the moon-woman, whose
harp was so charming. Well, the moon-man meant
nothing else than the marsh, slimy and danger-
ous, which yielded a malarial odor ; and the wee
woman with her harp represented the musical
night-wind, which played over the marsh rushes
and reeds. Was it not so, too, with the larger
myths of Greece ? For the story of Proserpine,
carried away by the god of the under world, and after
1 68 "brownies and bogles."
a weary while, given back for half-a-year to her fond
mother Ceres, tells really of the seed-corn which
is cast into her dark soil, and long hidden ; but re-
appears in glory, and stays overground for months,
basking in the sun. And so on with many a fable,
which we read, unguessing of the thought and
purpose beneath. Though it was erring, we can
hardly thank too much that joyous and reverent
old paganism which fancied it saw divinity in each
move of Nature, kept a natural piety towards every-
thing that lived, and made a thousand sweet mem-
oranda, to remind us forever of the wonder and
charm of our earth. All mythology, and the
part the fairies play in it, stands for what is true.
Doth the old instinct bring back the old names " :
and again and again, when we cite some beautiful
fiction of Merman and Kobold, of White Dwarf or
Pooka, we but repeat, whether aware of it or not,
how the dews come down at morning, or the
storm-wind breaks the strong trees, or how a comet,
trailing light, bursts headlong across the wide sky.
To comprehend fairy-stories, to get under the
THE PASSING OF THE LITTLE PEOPLE. 1 69
surface of them, we would have to go over them
all at great length, and with exhaustless patience.
And as in digging for the tendrils of a delicate,
berry-laden vine, we have to search, sometimes,
deep and wide into the woodland loam, among
gnarly roots of shrubs and giant pines, so in trac-
ing the scources of the simplest tale which makes
us glad or sad, we fall across a network of ponder-
ous ancient lore; of custom, prejudice, and lost
day-dreams, from which this vine, also, is hard to
The spirit of these neat little goblin-chronicles
was right and sincere ; but the matter of them
was often sadly astray. Of course, sometimes,
useless, misleading details gathered tD obscure
the first idea, and to overrun it with a tangle
of error; and not only were fine stories spoiled,
but many were started which were funny, or silly,
or grim merely, without serving any use beyond
But so powerful is Truth, when there was actu-
ally a grain of it at the centre, that even those
versions which were exaggerated and distorted,
170 "brownies and bogles.
played into the hands of what we call Folk-lore,
and laid their golden key at the feet of Science.
You will discover that, besides pointing out the
workings of the natural world, the fairy-tales rested
often on the workings of our own minds and con-
sciences. The Brownie was a little schoolmaster
set up to teach love of order, and the need of
perfect courtesy ; the Nix betokened anything
sweet and beguiling, which yet was hurtful, and
to which it was, and is, a gallant heart's duty not
to yield. And thus, from beginning to end, the
elves at whom we laugh, help us toward larger
knowledge, and a more chivalrous code of behav-
ior. How shall we say, then, that there never was
a fairy ?
A miner, hearing the drip of subterranean water,
took it to be a Duergar or a Bucca, swinging his
tiny hammer over the shining ore. His notion of
the Bucca, askew as it was, was one at bottom
with our knowledge of the, dark brookletj You,
the young heirs of mighty Science, can often out-
strip the slow-gathered wisdom of dead philoso-
phers. But do not despise that fine old imagina-
THE PASSING OF THE LITTLE PEOPLE. 1 73
tion, which felt its way almost to the light. A
sixteenth-century boy, who was all excitement
once over the pranks of Robin Goodfellow, knew
many precious things which our very great nine-
teenth-century acuteness has made us lose !
Good-bye, then, to the army of vanishing "gen-
try," and to their steadfast friends, and to you, chil-
dren dear ! who are the guardians of their wild
unwritten records. Shall you not miss them when
next the moon is high on the blossomy hillocks,
and the thistledown, ready-saddled, plunges to be
off and away ? Merry fellows they were, and
shrewd and just ; and we were very fond of them ;
and now they are gone. And their going, like a
mounting harmony, note by note, which ends in
one noble chord, with a hush after it, leads us to
a serious parting word. Keep the fairies in kindly
memory ; do not lose your interest in them. They
and their history have an enchanting value, which
need never be outgrown nor set aside ; and to the
gravest mind they bring much which is beautiful,
humane and suggestive.
We have found that believers in the Little Peo-
174 "brownies and bogles.
pie were not so wrong, after all; and that the eye
claiming to have seen a fairy saw, verily, a sight
quite as astonishing. Let us think as gently of
other myths to which men have given zeal, awe and
admiration, of every faith hereafter which seems
to us odd and mistaken. For many things which
are not true in the exact sense, are yet dear to
Truth ; and follow her as a baby's tripping tongue
lisps the language of its mother, not very suc-
cessfully, but still with loyalty, and with a mean-
ing which attentive ears can always catch.
Surely, our ancestors loved the " span-long elves "
who wrought them no great harm, and who gave
them help and cheer. We will praise them, too.
Who knows but some little goblin's thorny finger
directed many an innocent human heart to march,
albeit waveringly, towards the ample light of God ?